Small Business Brief


Dirty Work: Common Causes of Mold in the Workplace and How to Prevent It

Mold in the workplace can mean serious legal trouble or expensive repairs. As an employer, there are some signs you can look for to prevent mold from getting out of hand. Do you know what they are? And do you know how to prevent it? Keep reading to find out. 

Signs of Mold in the Workplace

There are a few things you may start to notice around the office or store that could indicate a mold problem. Keep an eye out for these things to help save you from headaches down the road. 

Allergies: People are going to sneeze occasionally, that’s a given. But when you start to hear reports of itchy or watery eyes or irritated throats and nasal passageways, you might want to start paying attention.

The common cold comes and goes, but mold allergies will happen day after day. 

Asthma: The office or store shouldn’t be a place where people lose their breath. it’s not like you’ll have staff doing cardio or anything. So if you start to hear reports of shortness of breath…pay attention.

Asthma suffers will experience breathing irregularities in moldy environments. These experiences can be anything from chest tightening, coughing, wheezing, and other shortness of breath related issues. 

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis: Also known as HP, this disease can reveal mold problems too. 

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis is when dust, mold, or fungus particles enter air passageways and cause lung inflammation. This can then result in bad coughs or wheezing, much like asthma. This disease can be treated with antibiotics, but as an employer, you’ll want to take out the source of the problem not put a bandaid on it. 

Preventing Mold in the Workplace

Now that you know what to look for, here’s what you can do about it. 

According to OSHA, “The key to mold prevention is moisture control.” Mold only needs two things to grow: moisture and oxygen. 

What that means for employers is that any area’s where water spills, leaks, faulty equipment, or improper drainage is happening, mold can spread. 

A key example we like to use is the staff room coffee pot.

If you have a coffee maker in the workplace, make sure it’s surroundings get cleaned regularly. The steam and water spills from making coffee can build up over time, creating mold. 

Below we have a quick list of other things to watch out for: 

  • Leaky pipes, windows, and doors
  • Building with wet materials
  • Light flooding (and heavy flooding, of course)
  • Building slopes (watch for water getting underneath your foundation.) 

All of the hazards can be taken care of, and doing so early will save you tons of money down the road. 

What to Do When Mold Strikes

Mold can be in any building. Even your home. We’ve done some research on household mold if you want more info.

If someone is experiencing health problems due to mold, make sure that area is sectioned off until treated. 

We recommend checking with your insurance company to find out what sort of coverage you will have for reconstructing or treating an area. 

If you or a staff member are experiencing health problems due to a mold-related issue, we recommend contacting your respected doctors immediately. 

More on Mold

If you’re looking for more information on mold in the workplace or what to do about mold-related issues, head on over to our forum where we’ve got tons of legal content and advice for small businesses. 

If you don’t see something there that you’re looking for, feel free to reach out and contact us. We’re happy to help your small business be the best that it can be!