Are Your Staff Showing Signs of Sick Building Syndrome?

Like Ellesse tracksuits and platform trainers, Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) was a phenomenon of the 90’s. Unlike the questionable outfits however, it’s currently making a comeback.

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

SBS can be diagnosed when regular inhabitants of a particular building feel consistently ill for no apparent reason. Often, it’s office workers who suffer.

Typically characterised by a variety of physical and mental ailments, it’s often as a result of poor air quality. In fact, 80% of people in the ‘Air Quality and Wellbeing at Work’ survey believe poor air quality is having a negative impact on their health.

Air quality can be negatively impacted by flaws in heating, ventilation or air conditioning. It can also be exacerbated with certain types of building materials, VOCs, mould or inhalation of chemicals.

Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome

Remark Group explored the signs of SBS and found that these were the most common among their respondents:

  • Headaches (86%)
  • Lethargy and tiredness at work (91%)
  • Dry, itchy or watery eyes (78%)
  • Dry throat (76%)
  • Itchy or irritated skin (70%)
  • Poor quality of sleep (25%)

How to avoid Sick Building Syndrome

Environmental psychologist and workplace wellbeing expert, Dr Nigel Oseland is shocked by the results, but not entirely surprised.

“Whilst we are producing some great-looking, modern offices we need to pay more attention to basic human needs, to the so-called hygiene factors, such as good indoor air quality, temperature control and noise reduction.

So, what can we be doing to fend off the dreaded SBS?

Purify indoor air by:

  • Introducing indoor plants which help reduce CO2 and toxins in the atmosphere
  • Keep your personal working environment clean and hygienic
  • Keep air vents unobstructed at all times
  • Replace filters on air vents every 6-12 months
  • Open windows regularly to help fresh air circulate
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep allergens and mould to a minimum
  • Opt for antibacterial and anti-pollutant fabrics over synthetic materials

Do you have experience dealing with Sick Building Syndrome? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or come and share them with us over on Twitter or Facebook.


Elizabeth Hughes

An SEO Copywriter and Content Creator. After more than ten years of enjoying myself by turning difficult subjects into elegant, simple language, I still can't believe I get paid for this.