Mold is a naturally occurring fungi that thrives in moist climates—and can cause adverse health effects including respiratory issues.
Buildings or facilities that have sat vacant due to COVID-19 that are now reopening should be properly inspected for workplace mold growth
Quick clean-up is key
Got a workplace mold problem?
Get to work as quickly as possible with a formal mold management strategy. Containing sources of moisture is the best way to control the spread. Address situations such as elevated humidity levels, roof leaks, or other sources of water such as flooding. Follow-up with weekly building inspections.
Any signs of water intrusion should be dealt with as soon as possible. Aim to dry them out within 24 to 48 hours of noticing the intrusion.
Workplace Mold might be hiding in plain sight
The Environmental Protection Agency warns that indoor mold growth may not be obvious as it can grow on hidden surfaces including the back of drywall, wallpaper, or paneling, as well as the top of ceiling tiles, and the underside of carpets or pads.
Other hidden mold locations may include pipe chases, utility tunnels, walls behind furniture, condensate drain pans inside A/C units, liners inside ductwork, or roof materials.
Even if you can’t see it, mold has other ways to announce itself. If you detect a musky, earthy smell—it’s probably a sign of workplace mold.
Steps to take upon reopening after a prolonged shutdown
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for reopening following prolonged shutdown includes the following steps:
- Keep indoor humidity as low as possible, not exceeding 50%, as measured by a humidity meter. Building managers also can use a digital hygrometer, “ideally more than once daily,” to minimize the need to access the building.
- Check buildings for excess moisture or mold. Consider inspections with trained industrial hygienists who can recognize mold by sight or odor “without the need for sampling or laboratory analysis.” Building personnel also can use the aforementioned NIOSH assessment resource.
- If mold or dampness is detected, address the source of water entry first.
- If the building’s HVAC system hasn’t been active during a shutdown, it should be operated for 48 to 72 hours (also known as a “flush out” period) before workers return. Open outdoor dampers to the maximum setting that doesn’t affect desired indoor air temperatures.
- Check for odors after the “flush out” period. Assess HVAC filters and replace as necessary.
3 ways to get rid of workplace mold and keep employees protected
Use engineering controls
These methods work to create a barrier between workers and the hazard:
- Re-wet materials with a mist of water to suppress spores, dust, and debris.
- Wrap and seal the items that will be thrown out in plastic bags or sheets to reduce the spread of spores.
- Provide natural or local exhaust ventilation during all cleaning steps.
Implement work practices
Provide these guidelines to workers to outline how to perform a task with minimum risk:
- Don’t eat, drink, or smoke in work areas.
- After an area has been cleaned and is completely dry, vacuum the area with a HEPA vacuum. These can also be used to clean up dust that has settled on surfaces outside the work area.
- Clean all areas where workers come and go with a mop and a detergent solution.
- After working in mold-contaminated areas, thoroughly wash hair, scalp, and nails.
Provide personal protective equipment
Protect workers from inhaling toxic mold with the following equipment:
- In areas smaller than 100 square feet, use either a half-faced or full-face N, R, or P-95 approved respirator
- In bigger areas where there is blanket mold coverage, use an approved full-face respirator, either an N, R, or P-100.
- Non-vented goggles
- Long gloves to protect workers from skin-to-skin contact with chemicals used to clean surfaces
- Protective clothing to prevent direct contact with mold or chemicals
OSHA advises any employer in doubt of how to solve their mold problem to consult an experienced mold remediator for more information. For buildings with ongoing mold problems, testing employees with medical surveillance is a way to stay ahead of potential adverse health effects.
On-site respirator fit testing
If your team wears respirators to work, you need to make sure they fit properly.
Additionally, you’re required to ensure that each team member is medically able to wear a respirator. But you don’t always have time to send your team to a clinic. It slows down productivity and puts your company at risk the moment they leave the job site.
That’s where we come in to help…literally! With Worksite Medical, you get all of your OSHA-required medical testing. brought right to your workplace. From respirator fit testing to audio exams, physical exams, and lab work, our medical team comes equipped with everything necessary to test your employees around your schedule. Get convenient testing and the confidence of compliance all in one trip!
Ready to give mobile medical surveillance testing a try? Get your free quote today, or schedule now by completing the form below!
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.
With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!