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Mold can cause respiratory issues in the workplace

Every day, many Pennsylvania workers are exposed to mold while on the job. Studies show that exposure to the dangerous fungus can cause serious health issues, including asthma and other respiratory problems, sinusitis, bronchitis and respiratory infections. Experts say that workers and employers should look out for any signs of mold in the workplace.

Buildings that are located in humid areas or are susceptible to flooding are most vulnerable to mold issues. Employers should immediately respond to any reports of musty odors, leaks, dampness and respiratory symptoms. If a mold problem is suspected, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers several tips for eliminating it. The agency recommends regularly inspecting and maintaining a building's HVAC systems to prevent mold growth. Building materials that show signs of water damage or mold should be promptly cleaned or replaced. NIOSH also urges employers to create an Indoor Environmental Quality Team and program that includes liaisons between workers, supervisors and building management.

Workers should immediately report any signs of flooding, dampness or moldy smells to a supervisor. Employees who believe their workplace is causing respiratory issues should visit their health care provider and report the problem to their employer. They should also familiarize themselves with their employer's Indoor Environmental Quality Team. If no team has been established, workers should push for one to be created.

Pennsylvania workers who develop respiratory problems because of their work environment are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits could help cover medical expenses and reduce financial hardship while a worker recovers. To ensure benefits, some people prefer to consult with an attorney as they go through the claims process.

Source: Safety and Health, "Mold in the workplace," July 24, 2016

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