Preventing Mold in the Workplace

Sam Reed authored this article. Reed is a content writer at PTAC4Less, an online retailer selling packaged terminal air conditioner units (PTAC units) since 2003.

Mold is a naturally occurring organism that can be found anywhere, but it can cause a handful of problems if it is present in the workplace.

Many people are allergic to mold, and it deteriorates things like sheetrock, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet and upholstery. Mold grows very quickly and breaks down or consumes whatever it sticks to.

Mold grows wherever there is moisture and can cause health issues in the workplace.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says that office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings may develop moisture and dampness problems from roof and window leaks, high indoor humidity, and flooding events, among other things.

Mold in the Workplace Can be Harmful to Employees

Exposure to mold spore contaminants can cause respiratory problems, allergies, asthma and even immunological reactions, according to the World Health Organization. The most common responses are upper and lower respiratory issues, but they can also include breathing difficulties, skin rashes, headaches, cough, wheezing and asthma. Some molds can cause deadly reactions in people.

Long-term exposure can cause chronic fatigue, cold- and flu-like symptoms, shortness of breath and weakness.

Older buildings can hide mold easily. It can grow behind paneling or underneath carpet. If you see signs of moisture problems, like rusty pipes or warped walls, and employees in your office building are showing signs of mold allergies, that’s a pretty good indicator that you have a problem.

Mold smells musty, so try to track down the source of the odor.

How do I decrease mold in my workplace?

You cannot always completely avoid indoor mold. However, you can take precautions. Prevention is key.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following steps to prevent mold:

  • Keep humidity levels as low as you can — no higher than 50 percent — all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low, according to the CDC.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Consider repainting the walls with painted treated with mold inhibitors.
  • Clean bathrooms with products that include mold inhibitors.
  • Do not carpet bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Always remove and replace flooded carpets.

If you have a leak, or if your business was damaged by flooding, repair the leak source and dry everything out as well as possible. Again, do not keep wet carpets. Keeping a dehumidifier running in areas that are chronically damp, like basements, will help.

If mold is a problem in your bathroom, you may need to increase the ventilation. And that is not just limited to bathrooms — starting in the 1960s, builders started building homes and commercial buildings that were more tightly sealed. While that is great for power bills, it prevents moisture from easily escaping.

Small areas of mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with soap and water or a bleach solution (no more than one cup of household laundry bleach in one gallon of water).

Do not ever mix bleach-based cleaning products with ammonia-based products. That creates a toxic mix that is dangerous if inhaled. Check the ingredients listed on all household cleaners.

Any mold growth more than 10 feet should be contracted out to a mold remediation company. There is a risk of spreading the mold when you clear out materials like wall board, paneling or ceiling tiles. There is a possibility you will spread more mold spores when you attempt to remove it, so the area needs to be sealed off while decontamination is taking place.

What to do if mold is suspected in your workplace

NIOSH recommends the following steps if mold is suspected:

  • Do not ignore reports of health concerns from employees.
  • Inspect building areas such as roofs, ceilings, walls, basements, crawl spaces, and slab construction for evidence of dampness regularly.
  • Conduct regularly scheduled inspections of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and correct issues quickly.
  • Inform your employees that respiratory problems from exposure in damp buildings can occur.
  • Create a system for response to building dampness and musty or moldy odors, leaks, and flooding incidents. Also have a system to combat building-related respiratory symptoms or disease.
  • Encourage employees who have reported respiratory issues while working in the building to see a healthcare provider.
  • If there is a mold problem, relocate your employees to another space until it is taken care of.

Final word

If mold is growing on things like produce or food left in a shared refrigerator, throw those items away. However, if mold is growing on the walls, floors or ceilings of your office space or business, that will have to be taken care of for the health of your employees and the maintenance of your building.

Remember that mold grows quickly. Finding the source of moisture and treating it will prevent additional mold from growing.

Eliminating moisture sources is the best thing you can do to prevent mold overgrowth in your home.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!



Next generation of security solutions
The Future of Security: Discovering the Next Generation of Security Solutions at ISC West
April 23, 2024

The recently concluded International Security Conference & Exposition West 2024 (ISC West) proved to be an indispensable platform for discovering the next generation of security solutions, providing attendees with invaluable insights into the future of the industry. At a recent episode of MarketScale’s roundtable show Experts Talk, Cathal Walsh, Vice President and Chief Security […]

Read More
Cyber Resilience: To Protect Corporate Assets, Businesses Must Invest in Cybersecurity Training
April 23, 2024

As cyberattacks occur at increasing frequency, cybersecurity has become a cornerstone of corporate security strategies across all sectors. With businesses increasingly reliant on digital infrastructures, the quality of a company’s cybersecurity training is no longer just an operational requirement — it is a strategic asset. The stakes are high, as a breach can lead […]

Read More
Forming Relationships with Industry Insiders Can Quell Sales Cycles and their Length of Time
April 23, 2024

New companies are facing more and more challenges in the security industry as sales cycles are experiencing lengthier times. One of those reasons is due to the complexity of the security industry itself, along with the unique and special business models every new company will come in with. But there is a solution to […]

Read More
Cyber-first approach
From Bollards to Bytes: Why Security Firms Need to Adopt a Cyber-First Approach
April 23, 2024

How can the security industry effectively navigate the shift from traditional physical security measures to adopting a cyber-first approach in its sales and integration strategies? The transition from physical to digital security solutions was a major theme at the International Security Conference & Exposition West 2024 held earlier this month. On a recent episode of […]

Read More