Guest post courtesy of Naomi Webb
According to Allergy UK more than 150 million European citizens have some form of allergy, and this increases by 5% each year. The 20 years leading up to 2012 saw a sixfold increase in hospital admissions due to anaphylaxis, part of an overall trend that has seen the UK become one of the top three countries in the world for the highest incident of allergies.
Allergy sufferers such as those who suffer from asthma or eczema, or food allergies, can somewhat control the home environment. The workplace, however, is more difficult. There are too many factors and too many people with different behaviour – for example, we can’t directly lay down the rules on what they eat, or the powder they use to wash their clothes, or their pets at home.
As an example of the issues allergy sufferers face, further research from Allergy UK identified some worrying behaviour in offices and workplaces.
Only 38% of those surveyed had their office cleaned daily, while 17% said it was cleaned ‘infrequently’. The latter will likely lead to the potential growth of mould and other bacteria which can be harmful to any workers, let alone those with allergies. The obvious way to change this is to carry out more regular cleaning, but with an eye on which chemicals are used.
Combine this with good ventilation (although be aware of the summer for hay fever sufferers when opening windows – consider an air purifier as an alternative) and regular vacuuming of carpets. Ideally cleaners should plump for a ‘microfibre-type’ mop, chemical free cleaners, and latex–free gloves from a company such as Brosch Direct.
As a final check, those with cleaner desks are less likely to be ill than those who have clutter and remnants of old food nearby.
Know of any asthma action plans
Asthma sufferers are will hopefully have a plan to look after their symptoms and cut the risk of an attack, written up with a GP or nurse – but what happens if others are unaware of it when an attack occurs? The simplest way of ensuring the correct action is taken is for the registered and trained first aider to also be aware of the plan, and/or this plan to be at hand so others can see it when an attack occurs.
Other employees should be willing to help on a day to day basis in various ways – eliminating sources of unhealthy air, not smoking near the sufferer, and informing staff of any changes in cleaning routines and chemicals used.
Allergy sufferers can see their symptoms triggered by a huge array of factors. For example, sitting near someone who has cats or dogs at home and has transmitted their hair into work on their clothing, can be damaging if you are an allergy sufferer. Another example is sitting near to a fellow worker who eats something with peanuts, dairy products, or shellfish in their lunch.
If possible moving people in a subtle way, so the pet owner/eater is aware of the reasons for the reallocation, should be encouraged. Usually, if people are aware that a nearby worker has a food allergy they will avoid that particular ingredient or eat elsewhere. In conclusion, allergy avoidance should be a team effort, not just the responsibility of the person with the condition
Source: Naomi Webb is an enthusiastic freelance writer specializing in the latest technology trends, with a keen interest in business technology. She has written a broad range of content for a variety of audiences and loves to take on a writing challenge!