Managing Mould in the Workplace

Addressing Mould in the Workplace

Mould is a common problem in homes and workplaces. Mould will grow in environments where there is moisture, where there are water ingress issues, in areas of poor air quality management and where there has been flooding, (even minor flooding). It can cause serious health problems if not managed properly. In this blog, we will discuss the dangers of mould, how to identify it, and how to prevent and remove it.

Health Risks and Preventive Measures

Why Mould is a Serious Safety Hazard

Mould releases microscopic spores and gasses known as “microbial volatile organic compounds” (mVOCs) that can cause respiratory problems, headaches, allergies and other health problems. Even mould that is considered dead, i.e., mould fragments can cause some individuals health issues. 

Mould exposure can also trigger asthma attacks and make allergies worse as well as cause chronic, obstructive or allergic lung diseases. The health risks are higher for those who have asthma or lung disease, chronic disease such as diabetes and low immunity. If left unchecked, mould can also cause damage to buildings, furniture, and other possessions.

Identifying Mould

Mould can appear in many different colors and textures, but is most commonly black, green, or gray. It can grow on walls, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces. Mould can grow quite easily with sufficient moisture on paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood products.  If you suspect you have mould, it is important to investigate the extent and what is causing the mould, which could include having it professionally tested to identify the mould. An environmental professional such as the Occupational Health and Safety Team at Helia EHS will be able to conduct the following : 

  • A visual assessment of point of water ingress (if known)
  • A visual assessment of water impact and/or mould growth
  • Moisture level assessment of accessible building structure/components and internal air quality within the known affected area
  • Surface and airborne mould sampling undertaken as required to establish degree and nature of impact
  • Preparation of a report summarising the findings and providing recommendations and remediation if required.

Helia EHS can also help with post remediation verification to ensure that mould has been removed.  

Preventing Mould

To prevent mould from growing in your workplace, it is important to maintain proper ventilation and control moisture levels. This includes keeping bathrooms and kitchens well-ventilated, fixing leaks promptly, and using dehumidifiers if necessary. It is also important to clean up water spills immediately and dry out damp areas quickly as mould growth can establish within 24 hours in some environments.

Removing Mould

If you have mold in your workplace, it is important to have it removed promptly. You should not attempt to remove mould yourself, as it can release mVOCs into the air, spread mould fragments and spores to other uncontaminated areas and sometimes make the problem worse. Instead, you should hire a professional environmental consultant who will be able to assess the extent of the problem, have the mould removed safely and provide recommendations for preventing future mould growth.

Employers or PCBUs must provide and maintain a working environment where employees, contractors and visitors are not exposed to hazards. Mould in the workplace requires immediate attention and action. Follow the four steps below for best practice in managing mould –

  1. Identify the Risk.
    Helia EHS provides workplace inspections to identify areas where mould might grow. We will conduct an audit for indoor environmental / air quality, reviewing windows, air flow, environmental conditions and water ingress / leaks. 
  2. Assess the Risk.
    If mould, or a situation where mould may arise, is identified conduct a risk assessment to determine –
    – If there is a risk to you or others
    – Whether any effective control measures are already in place
    – What actions you could take to control the risk
    – How urgently you should act.
  1. Control the Risk.
    Helia EHS will assess the risk and prepare a report with the findings and recommendations for suitable measures for both prevention and remediation.
  2. Review Risk Controls.
    Risk management is an ongoing process. You should regularly review and assess any potential hazards in your workplace in relation to air quality and mould. Speak to the professionals at Helia EHS to arrange the management of your workplace health and safety.

To find out more about managing mould in the workplace and air quality testing, contact an Indoor Environmental Professional at Helia EHS today here.

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