November 5, 2008 in Business



SICK OF WORK: The sneezing, the coughing, the drowsiness – but only at the office. Could it be that you’re allergic to … work?

It may sound like a stunt to wrangle some time off. But your ailments could be related to “sick building syndrome,” an illness caused by mold, inadequate ventilation, or chemicals from walls and carpet of both old and new buildings.

The causes of such symptoms can be difficult to pin down, said Susan Lessack, partner in Pepper Hamilton law firm in Berwyn, Pa.

“Often there is a tendency to doubt that the person is experiencing something related to the building, and these illnesses are met with suspicion even though they are quite valid,” Lessack said.

If you notice you’re only feeling ill while you’re at work, ask your employer to test the building’s air quality. If possible, try to work from another location to see if the symptoms begin to fade.

If a link is found between an illness and the building, an employee could seek compensation under workers’ comp laws, Lessack said. That can be difficult to do.

Regardless, it would be in the employer’s best interest to resolve the problem, Lessack said. When employees work in a “sick building,” they feel a sense of relief and renewed health after leaving work.

“This can lead to poor morale as well as high turnover,” she said.

NEED A VOWEL? Skip the boring news release or internal e-mail. One company is using crossword and word search puzzles to get the word out about its corporate initiatives.

“This is a really simple, easy-to-implement way to get the messages out that we want everyone to be aware of,” said Andre Hughes, managing director of corporate citizenship at the consulting firm Accenture Ltd.

The puzzles include questions and a word bank of phrases that reflect the company’s missions of diversity and work-life balance, as well as names they should remember.

Associated Press

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