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Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) describes a range of symptoms that are linked to spending time in a particular building or workplace. The impact of these can cause considerable distress to employees and if not addressed may lead to a significant cost to business through; reduced staff efficiency, increased absenteeism and extended breaks.

SBS can affect anyone, but it is most often associated with workers in large modern buildings, with open plan office layouts. However cases have occurred in many different types of building, including hospitals, schools, museums and libraries. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend that any complaints about symptoms relating to SBS should be investigated promptly and systematically.

The causes of SBS are due to a combination of factors, and may vary considerably from building to building. The risk factors identified by research by the HSE, include:

  • Open plan offices with more than ten workstations
  • New furniture, carpets and painted surfaces
  • Air conditioning, especially with low level of user control
  • Lighting poorly positioned which can cause flickering and glare
  • Poor standard of general building maintenance
  • Insufficient or badly organised cleaning services
  • Excessive variations in temperature throughout the day
  • Very low or high humidity
  • Chemical pollutants and dust or fibre particles in the atmosphere

Our SBS Consultancy Service works with clients to identify the causes of SBS and provide recommendations on possible solutions. As there are many factors that can contribute to SBS, these will be unique to each case. Oakleaf will work with you to assess the key environmental and job related factors that may be the cause of SBS. These could include:

  • A review of building and office design and layout
  • An inspection of ventilation and air-handling systems
  • An air hygiene survey to investigate humidity, airborne particulates and environmental gasses
  • Space utilisation review to identify poor management of space
  • Inspection of heating, lighting and other applicable equipment
  • The recommissioning of building plant and services
  • Survey to review general condition of building or rooms

Once a report has been produced, we can also provide a good practice maintenance schedule to help to maintain an on going healthy and productive working environment in your building.

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