Sick building syndrome Essay

Sick building syndrome

What is it?

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The term “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout the building.

What is the cause?

Although the cause is unknown, there are several common theories surrounding the syndrome. These include:

1. Chemical pollutants outside the building – these will vary according to the location of the building. However, the common theory is that ‘bad air’ is drawn into the building via vents and windows.

2. Chemical pollutants inside the building – upholstery, carpets and cleaning products can emit chemicals, which can be a cause of irritation.

3. Bacteria, pollen and mould – if these contaminants collect in drains or air-conditioning systems they can breed and spread causing a variety of health problems such as allergies and infections.

4. High or low humidity level – or changes in relative humidity in a building can trigger symptoms of ill health.

5. Poor ventilation – many office environments use air conditioning systems but ventilation is sometimes poor.

What effect does it have on staff?

Some effect that SBS can have on staff include: headaches, eye, nose or throat irritation, skin irritation, coughs, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. The symptoms rapidly improve after leaving the building.

What can be done?

To avoid SBS in your work environment, the following points van help you:

* Opening windows or doors to improve airflow.

* Altering the temperature in your office.

* Minimising the use of perfumed detergents and air fresheners.

* Finally, if you and your colleagues feel that further investigation or action is needed, you may need to consider meeting with the owner of the building and your local health department.

2. Department is moving to new offices:

* The factors I would take into consideration when arranging for the siting of the equipment and furniture in the main new office are:

> I must make sure that there is enough for the equipment and furniture.

> I need to carefully design the office so that everyone can easily access equipment they need and so they can also communicate quickly with colleagues.

> Advantages of taking an office adjacent to the main office are

– easy to talk to colleagues

– sharing items

– If I need help, I can easily ask for it.

> Disadvantages

– noise

– no concentration

> Advantages of being down the corridor next to my boss

It can be an advantage for me if the boss gives me a job and if I don’t understand what to do, I can talk to him about it very easily because I am near his office, I don’t need to walk miles away and in case I need feedbacks, I would ask him or her.

> Disadvantages

Too much work to do because if the boss comes out his office with some work, he could give it to me because I am near to his office

3. Ergonomics

The term “ergonomics” is derived from two Greek words: “ergon”, meaning work and “nomoi”, meaning natural laws. Ergonomists study human capabilities in relationship to work demands

  • What is it

Ergonomics is a discipline that involves arranging the environment to fit the person in it. When ergonomics is applied correctly in the work environment, visual and musculoskeletal discomfort and fatigue are reduced significantly.

  • What way does it affect office workers and their working environment

Workers can be affected by incorrect working posture which can cause musculoskeletal disorders affecting the neck, back, shoulders, arms and fingers.

4. The use of colour is something very personal – yet how can it be applied effectively and what role does it play in office design and the working environment.

  • First, we must make sure that the choice of the colour that not affect the sight of people working in the office or customers.
  • Always chose a colour that will allow a good illumination of the office
  • The choice of a good colour can attract customers

5. Explain how can noise be reduced in an office

Noise can be reduced in an office by:

  • applying some rules and regulations on noise
  • Separate people who make noise, give them a verbal warning if they don’t change.

6. Explain why plants are used in an office

Plants in an office are not only decorative, but they are useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside an office.


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