Allergic to work?
Allergic to work?
Post written by Paragon Interiors   January 15, 2016


Ever wondered why as soon as you walk into your office building in the morning you feel an immediate headache coming on? Your nose starts running and your eyes water, you feel lethargic as you trudge up the stairs to your office and within an hour or so you can barely keep your eyes open as you struggle to concentrate on your work. I know what you are thinking… You are allergic to work!

Your supposition may be more accurate than you realise.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA, Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) refers to a phenomenon where the occupants of a building suffer from allergy-like symptoms that are relieved only when they leave the building. Shared symptoms increase in their severity, in direct correlation to the amount of time that occupants spend in the building. Symptoms may develop as a result of spending time in just one part of the building, or in the building as a whole.

So what are the causes of sick building syndrome?

The Public Services Health & Safety Association in Canada suggests that the main causes of SBS are; ineffective ventilation, chemical contamination from printing machines, cleaning agents and other chemical products, biological contaminations such as mould, stagnant water, bird droppings and bacteria, and the presence of asbestos and radon in the building.

The solution to SBS is to assess the building against each of the possible causes and address issues. Troubleshoot by asking employees what they think the possible areas of concern are. Some basic tips are to ensure that the building has a fresh air supply, eliminate pollutants, maintain and/or update office equipment and use some good old fashioned elbow grease on a regular basis!  You may need to seek professional help to remedy these issues if necessary.

In the event that your complaints about suspected SBS fall on deaf ears – and your landlord refuses to take action – it may be time for you to consider moving to a new building when your lease expires. According to the Health and Safety Executive of the UK, unresolved SBS has a significant impact on the productivity and overall happiness of your staff, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Paragon Interiors can assist you by helping you select the right building to meet your needs. We take into account fundamental factors in our installations that make your work environment a healthy and productive one – lighting, humidity, air quality and temperature, noise, office equipment and furnishings. Leave it to the experts.

By Natalie Jones

Industrial Psychologist

HPCSA Reg no: PS 0128180



Health and Safety Executive of the UK (1995). How to deal with sick building syndrome (SBS). Retrieved from

Public Services Health & Safety Association (n.d.). Typical symptoms of sick building syndrome. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency (1991, February). Indoor facts no. 4: Sick Building Syndrome (Revised). Retrieved from