Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sick Building Syndrome

In a recent study, researchers found that out of more than 4,000 government employees, high job demands and the perception of poor support were more closely related to sick building symptoms than were the physical conditions of the workplace. According to these British researchers, its work related stress rather than the building conditions that are causing the problem. The cluster of symptoms includes headache, nasal congestion, and fatigue and eye irritation. These appear to occur when a person is in a particular indoor environment. Researchers have failed to find connections that were consistent between symptoms and specific physical conditions of buildings. Now there is growing evidence that job stress, especially when combined with demanding work and little autonomy, has health effects and the physical reactions to stress are similar to those that attribute to sick building syndrome. In a recent study at eh University College London Medical School; employees were surveyed about symptoms, job stress and the conditions of their work space. They even took environmental measurements of temperature, dust, humidity, airborne fungus, bacteria, and other conditions in some of the buildings. There was some evidence that heat and humidity and levels of dust and bacteria were related to the symptoms. But there was a stronger relationship between the symptoms and job stress, such as demanding work and a feeling of lack of support from superiors and co-workers. These finding suggest that the social and psychological environment of the workplace should be a consideration when employees are affected by fatigue, headaches and other symptoms that are attributed to sick building syndrome.

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