Mold can appear anywhere, inside or out, where conditions are ripe, even in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific guidelines regarding the effects of mold exposure and mold remediation in the workplace.
What is OSHA?
OSHA is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Founded in 1970, OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” Under OSHA law, employers must inform workers about potential hazards in the workplace, provide safety training, and perform routine tests to ensure the surrounding environment is not harming the health and wellness of employees.
What Are Some Workplace Mold Illnesses?
Molds can cause adverse health effects by producing allergens, which are substances that can cause allergic reactions. This, in turn, can produce symptoms such as respiratory problems (including asthma), and irritation of your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may flare up at certain times of the year, or be present year-round.
Government agencies, including OSHA, have not established standards for mold or mold spore levels in residential or commercial areas, so it is impossible to know if a building is in compliance with regulations regarding mold exposure.
How Can Mold Be Prevented In The Workplace?
Moisture control is key to stopping mold. Any water leaks, spills, or water infiltration should be stopped and cleaned within 24-48 hours, followed by thorough clean up, drying, and removal of water-damaged materials. Air vents and ventilation ducts should be routinely inspected and maintained.
If mold is found, access the damage before contacting a mold remediator. The plan for removing mold should not only including correcting the moisture/humidity problem but should cover the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and the containment and removal of moldy materials to prevent further contamination. Depending on the job’s scope, your mold remediation plan may require revision if more mold contamination is discovered.
A variety of cleanup methods used to remove workplace mold includes wet vacuums (vacuum cleaners designed to collect water), HEPA, or High-Efficiency Particulate Air vacuums, damaged material disposal, and detergent and water for wiping down and scrubbing nonporous surfaces.
What Are OSHA’s Mold Remediation Guidelines?
OSHA’s guidelines are based on the size of the area impacted by mold. Respiratory protection should be used at all times, and the areas of contamination should be unoccupied when clean up takes place. In small to mid-sized areas (0-30 square feet), regular building maintenance staff can clean mold contamination if they are trained on proper clean-up methods, personal protection, and potential health hazards. In larger areas (above 30 square feet), industrial hygienists and environmental health and safety professionals should be consulted to gauge the severity of the contamination before mold remediation begins.
Read more about OSHA’s Mold Guidelines Here