Environment not only concern

ENVIRONMENTAL factors may not be the only things to contribute to sick building syndrome.

According to MPL Occupational and Environmental Solutions director occupational health services Paul Foley, stress can be a major factor.

“People are spending more time in the office now rather than less,” Mr Foley said.

“Rest periods such as morning tea time are disappearing.

“And more people are being put into a given area because companies are having to look at what is often the biggest overhead of all – building costs.”

Mr Foley said MPL dealt solely with facts, testing variables such as air, water and lighting quality and comparing them to national and international standards.

“We try and balance personal issues with scientific issues,” he said.

“When we’re dealing with a situation where people are complaining of illnesses at work we measure the factors most likely to cause the problem.

“We ask people what symptoms they’re suffering and from there we can usually diagnose the problem and develop a treatment plan.”

Mr Foley said most companies were unlikely to know all of the current health and environmental regulations.

“There is a much greater awareness of environmental health. Standards are much more stringent than they’ve ever been,” he said.

“There is a much greater expectation from the public and the workforce that standards be met.

“Still, most people are just interested in the air they breathe, the ‘climate’ they work in and the water they drink.”

Another issue companies need to consider is access and egress from a building.

The Federal Government’s new Disability Discrimination Act says people with disabilities must have dignified access to a building.

“We become involved in those issues and emergency access and egress issues,” Mr Foley said.

“When a company takes over a whole floor it usually gets an empty space.

“As they put in partitions and create offices in the space, they can go from complying with emergency access regulations to not complying.

“We plan to make sure the company complies and also plan the spaces to make sure the environment is as pleasant as possible.”

MPL business development advisor Conrad Winter said the company had the most occupational hygenists of any business in Australia.

An occupational hygienist is like a cross between a doctor, an engineer and a scientist.

The company also employs a range of professions ranging from physicists, engineers and architects to microbiologists.

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