Fortunately, most employers strive to maintain a healthy and safe workplace. But, like homeowners, some employers are not familiar with the risks that exposure to mold can pose to their staff. Because exposure to mold can result in serious health issues, employees have a responsibility to communicate concerns to their employer. And, the employer has a responsibility to investigate and take action.
Discovering Mold in the Workplace
Employees that discover, or suspect, a mold problem in the workplace should report the problem immediately to management. Employers should ensure that employees feel comfortable to come forward and discuss concerns without fear of repercussions.
Management should take all complaints about mold in the workplace seriously to avoid potentially serious claims. If the mold problem and source are not obvious, a mold remediation professional may be necessary to determine the full scope of the damage and risks. Complaints and responses should be made in writing.
Employers that have high-risk clients, such as daycares and medical facilities, need to be even more vigilant to the presence of a mold problem. These clients may suffer even greater health risks due to exposure.
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain a healthy environment. Employers and supervisors have a responsibility to provide a healthy workplace. And, employees have a responsibility to let employers know when they become aware of a problem. In that respect, everyone has a role in ensuring a healthy work environment.
Worker’s Compensation and Other Legal Issues
Employees may bring a claim against an employer for illnesses related to mold in the workplace. However, proving that the workplace was the specific and only cause of the illness could prove difficult for the employee. And, simply being exposed to mold would likely not be a sufficient claim. There would need to be actual harm, illness, or disability as a result of the exposure.
However, defending against a claim or lawsuit related to employee illness from mold could be extremely costly. Legal costs, expert costs, and lost productivity all must be considered when deciding whether to fight a claim.
Employers should take signs of, or complaints about, mold in the workplace very seriously. Be sure to document employee’s complaints and your responses in writing. Take prompt and effective action to remedy any mold problems that are found.