Contractors have to deal with all sorts of dangers every day. From slips and falls to equipment and tool safety, construction is a dangerous business. There are, however, some less obvious dangers that come with the business. Among these is exposure to toxic mold. Knowing the dangers and symptoms of mold exposure could save the lives of your staff.
A mold is a type of fungus that usually grows in warm and humid conditions, and uses spores to reproduce. Spores are very hardy and can survive in conditions that are far too dry and hot or cold for normal mold to grow. This means that mold can lay dormant until the conditions are right for it to turn into mold. This makes it a very insidious problem.
Some of the most common indoor molds are Penicillium, Cladosporium, Alternaria and Aspergillus. Of these, Aspergillus, or “black mold,” is the most common health threat faced in the United States. However, when you are exposed to mold, it generally does not matter what kind it is. The important thing is to avoid exposure and treat the problem.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
People react to mold exposure in different ways. For those sensitive to the fungus, symptoms such as sneezing, breathing troubles, skin and eye irritation and sinus congestion can result. For those whose sensitivity is more serious, severe reactions can include fever, serious respiratory problems and lung infections.
Contractors are at especially increased risk for mold exposure due to the nature of their jobs. Mold can grow anywhere, but favors humid, warm conditions like attics, bathrooms, leaky walls and damp basements. Basically, all of the areas that contractors tear apart, mold can thrive.
Avoiding Mold Exposure
You can always do well to check for mold whenever you begin a job. Start with a visual inspection — often, mold can be seen growing on walls, in corners, behind bathtubs or under sinks. If the problem is not severe, the mold can usually be removed with common over-the-counter cleaning products. If the problem is serious, the property owner may need to have a professional take care of the problem.
If you need to work in an area where mold exposure may be a risk, using masks and ventilators as well as the right personal protective equipment like gloves and long-sleeved, sealed clothing can provide defense against exposure. Always try to keep humidity levels down and keep the area in which you are working well-ventilated. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can be your best friend.
If you think you have been exposed to mold on the job site and are experiencing symptoms, see your doctor immediately and file an incident report with your employer. This will allow you to use workers’ compensation to address the problem. Your workers’ comp coverage will help you to get the medication and treatment you need while your employer addresses the issue of mold on the job site. If you need more information or have any questions, give us a call. We are here to help!