Sick Building Syndrome: Is Work Making You Ill?

You might have complained about being sick of work, but have you ever been sick because of work? Sick building syndrome isn’t an illness or health condition per se, but it’s a set of health problems that you only experience when you’re in a certain building, like your office, factory, or warehouse.

What are the symptoms of sick building syndrome?

If you have sick building syndrome, you might suffer from headaches, dry eyes, a sore throat, stuffy nose, and brain fog, which are very vague and could be mistaken for numerous other health complaints. But most of these other health complaints like a cold or other virus will go away. Sick building syndrome gets worse the longer you’re in the environment, and you might start to notice it in other people you work with.

What causes sick building syndrome?

There’s no one exact cause, and the condition seems to be caused by many different factors like poor ventilation, lighting that flickers or that’s not adequate for the environment, the use of chemicals, noise, a too cold or too warm temperature, and more.

Who is most at risk of sick building syndrome?

People whose job involves looking at screens a lot and who do clerical work appear to suffer most, and more women suffer than men.

What can you do about sick building syndrome?

Look at your workplace and how it’s designed, and see if there’s anything obvious (or not so obvious) that could be causing people to feel unwell. Keep the building clean and well-maintained, and address extremes of temperature or any excessive noise.

Hold a team meeting to get to the bottom of the problem and work together to agree what should be better in the workplace.

It’s important for managers to get a handle on this, because if work is literally making people sick, there will be costs related to sickness absence and lost productivity. Not only that, people don’t want to work somewhere for long when they feel that their wellbeing is being affected, so it can potentially affect a company’s ability to retain or recruit good staff.