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Tackling Allergies in the Workplace

By Fiona Burns
19 Apr 2018
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Spring seems to finally have sprung in the UK, which is good news for those in desperate need of some Vitamin D. However, for millions of UK adults the changing of the seasons has a sting in the tail – hay fever. Watery itchy eyes, runny noses and in some cases chronic breathing difficulties are all symptoms of this seasonal allergy.

An allergy to pollen is among a large number of different allergies to affect 21 million people in the UK each year, which as an employer you must prepare and make adjustments for. For Allergy Awareness Week we’ve put together this handy guide to help you take action in the workplace to reduce allergens impact on your employees’ health and productivity.

Adjusting for Allergies in the Workplace

A study by Allergy UK surveyed office workers suffering with allergies about their workplace environment and how it affected them. An overwhelming 95% of respondents said they had experienced allergy symptoms in the workplace, which ranged from mild sneezing to more serious conditions like anaphylactic shock. Allergy UK recommends looking at ‘hotspots’ within your workplace that act as trigger points for allergy sufferers.

What Are Common Allergy Hotspots?

Common allergy hotspots include:

  • Dust mites,
  • Plants and flowers
  • Mould
  • Carpeted floors, which trap allergens
  • Cluttered desks

If an employee has suffered an allergic reaction in your workplace then you should carry out a risk assessment to identify and remove the triggers.

Removing Workplace Allergens

Take proactive action by removing workplace allergens from your workplace, including:

  • Ensure your office is properly ventilated
  • Keep the windows closed in the early morning and late afternoon, as this is when the pollen count is highest
  • Ensure your employees’ desks are regularly cleared and cleaned, as cluttered desks trap dust
  • Regularly water workplace plants and remove the top soil every-so-often, as this can cause mould
  • Hang coats and jackets away from working areas, as they can trap pet hair and dust

Expert Support

If you have a situation where allergies are affecting your employees, we can help. Our health & safety consultants can visit your workplace and carry out a complete risk assessment. You will then receive a detailed report highlighting where risks, like allergy hotspots exist, and what action to take next. Contact us on 0808 145 3490 for more information.

About the Author

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns has practical experience in Health & Safety and Risk Management having worked for major insurer prior to joining Croner.

She has gained extensive helpline experience offering competent advice and timely support to large number of clients, in various industries and at all levels.  Completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, also passed NEBOSH Environmental Diploma Unit A, (IOSH Managing Environmental responsibilities). NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, FPA Advance Fire Training, NCRQ Diploma – Distinction currently completing IPD and volunteering for Community project in Atherstone also as a Dementia support worker with CWPT.

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Fiona Burns

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