Imagining that black mold is nothing more than a household hazard is a major mistake, and unfortunately one that a lot of homeowners make. Businesses too, must be mindful of the health threat of mold in the workplace. Fungus turns into a work-related risk when unprotected employees come into contact with excessive mold levels in places such as warehouses, basements, or moist places favorable to the creation of mold spores. The structural damage associated with black mold in a house can just as easily undermine the stability of a commercial building. This can create serious cleanup expenses given the size of most business establishments.
Black mold grows where there is moisture and humidity. A warehouse is a probable site for black mold to spawn because of the construction of the building. Moisture, the breeding ground for black mold, can drip into the building from poor drainage from the gutters or, if the building has a flat roof, water could collect and gradually seep into the interior roofing. A prime place for mold growth is company storage areas. Proper ventilation can keep the humidity down, but the storage facility may not have air conditioning or fans, creating the right atmosphere for mold to grow and eventually spread. Inadequate ventilation equipment can be just as bad, as damp air ducts can actually be an agent for spreading mold spores. Paper and other business related materials may be in closed shelving or cardboard boxes. Should these get wet for any reason, they are potential mediums for mold for as well.
A few precautions can make a workplace less susceptible to the risk of black mold. For example, storing paper and files in shelves that have plastic wire instead of solid cardboard permits the air to circulate among the sheets and keep the contents fairly dry. The roof of the building should be routinely inspected for standing water and inspection of the rain gutters is a very good precaution. Air conditioning in a warehouse doesn’t have to be frigid either; just cool enough to keep humidity down and strong enough to keep the air moving. Moving air at less than humid temperatures, by the way, helps prevent moisture from building up. A business owner shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help from the insurance company whose property/casualty coverage protects the premises. A loss control representative can inspect the property with the intent of making recommendations to prevent black mold.
Any suggestion given by the professional should be followed immediately, as the longer the problem goes unnoticed (or uncared for), the bigger the threat can become. Black mold health risks to workers can also draw unfavorable attention from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The uncontrolled presence of mold in a workplace is a serious violation of OSHA housekeeping standards. As such, complaints filed by the employees themselves can lead to expensive litigation, in addition to any health and/or building repair costs.
OSHA does offer guidance to help business owners recognize potential breeding grounds for mold in the workplace, as well as what the clues are for identifying the presence of mold in a room or building. As mentioned, moisture creates the conditions necessary for black mold to grow and wet or damp areas need to be dried as quickly as possible. OSHA suggests that if a work area has been wet for forty-eight hours or more, the space should be dried immediately to protect the health of the workers. Careful monitoring of the area for weeks or even months after is also a good idea, as the initial dampness may have been enough for mold to take hold.