All dampness must be treated at source.
All mould must be removed and treated - primarily by removing
the conditions that favour mould, e.g. dampness; and not by relying solely
on fungicides and special wall coatings.
Plaster work, wallpaper etc must be in good condition. Plain
surfaces are preferable to embossed or other rough surfaces e.g. ‘Woodchip’.
Steel cabinet shelves etc might be preferable to wooden ones.
Dividers with fluff and fabric in them, especially if covering
large areas perhaps should be discouraged.
File and other storage is better enclosed in cabinets than
on open shelves.
Substantial ‘archive’ material could be stored elsewhere rather
then in the main office area.
In some studies symptoms have been associated with large "shelf"
spaces, so efforts should be made to reduce excessive shelving.
There is evidence associating large amounts of fluff with symptoms
-plain vinyl or short pile carpets are to be preferred to thick pile carpeting.
Extensive use of textiles, fabrics etc is to be avoided especially if used
essentially for aesthetic purposes, e.g. on walls.
Photo-copying should ideally take place in a separate dedicated
room away from the office, and if printing is extensive it too should be
in a separate area.
Occupants’ smoking must prohibited in offices.
Excessive use of deodorants, perfume etc should be discouraged.
When substantial maintenance is to be carried out, e.g. repainting
of the room, it is better to clear the room out completely, do the job,
clean the workplace and then reintroduce the furnishings etc, rather than
simply cover them with "dust sheets".
When new coatings, e.g. paint, carpeting etc are applied to
rooms, a variable period of inoccupancy coupled with ventilation may be
necessary to permit off-gassing of volatile organic compounds. It is difficult
to generalise how long this may be - since individual circumstances vary
Cleaning of surfaces should not be undertaken with aerosol sprays but
with moistened wipes (and appropriate glove protection for the skin). Dry
wiping is probably better.
Heating and Ventilation:
Natural ventilation through an open window is probably the
safest bet all round. Artificial ventilation can be just as good but needs
to be very well designed and maintained.
Central heating through water or oil filled radiators may be preferable
to other forms of heating. Each room should have its own thermostatic control.
Natural lighting is to be encouraged as far as possible.
Specific indoor sources of pollution or nuisance:
As has been mentioned, specific pollution or nuisance sources
eg photocopiers and printers need to be assessed in terms of their extent
of use, and likely contribution to volatile organics, noise or other nuisance,
and appropriate steps taken to segregate them if necessary.
Outdoor sources of pollution should not be overlooked e.g.
if the office block is above a car park or close to a busy street. The
possibility of significant outdoor chemical pollution (or noise nuisance)
gaining access to, and affecting the people inside the building should
be assessed and remedied.
This paragraph has been included in response to questions raised
about the usefulness of plants. Although it is often asserted that plants
can purify workplaces, the evidence for this is limited. Indeed it is proven
that some plants can cause skin or respiratory allergies. Excessive numbers
or sizes of potted plants, especially if they have a high turnover of water,
in an office with inadequate ventilation could increase humidity, condensation
moulds etc and therefore actually worsen the work environment.