Any business or homeowner who thinks that mold problems can be ignored is seriously mistaken. Mold is not only a threat to the structure of a building, but some forms, such as black mold, are known to be health hazards. It may seem amazing given the risk that any company would ignore a mold infestation. This can happen, though, as competition forces owners to look at what they feel are more pressing problems. Homeowners are the same way; putting off for another day what they think is just another household chore. Inspection though, is very important, particularly before buying or selling a home or building. Proper mold inspection has to be more than just a passing glance at a wall to be effective. Fortunately, industry guidelines have been created that compel business to keep a watchful eye out for the possibility of mold buildup.
Inspectors are required to have a prepared plan of action prior to inspection. This would include exactly what is going to be done and what contingency plans might be needed, not to mention what will be done if mold contamination is discovered. These inspectors have to wear protective clothing and use standardized equipment. Records of all activity must be kept. The inspection is influenced by guidelines set down by local government entities, including health boards.
Guidelines for workplace inspections are greatly influenced by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). The Occupational Safety and Health Act compels employers to be provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death of serious physical harm. OSHA recommends a company have a remediation plan in place to identify conditions conducive to mold growth, and to take whatever action is necessary to correct it. This plan should also have defined steps for the safe removal of any mold from the premises. OSHA also suggests means of mold removal. These include damp wipe, High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuums, and wet vacuums. OSHA urges caution when using chemical biocides due to high levels of toxicity, and warns that fungicides meant for outdoor use ought never to be used inside a building.
OSHA is more than just an adviser, however. The agency does not mandate what remediation plan an employer needs to use, but any company that does not take reasonable action to prevent or abate a health hazard can be held in violation of the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Black mold is a health hazard and failure to deal with it can result in a violation that may, in turn, generate fines or other penalties. That’s serious, and no company wants to be placed in such a position where it is in violation of the General Duty Clause.
It’s important to understand why industry guidelines are instituted and remediation plans are drawn up in the first place. Mold causes serious damage to a building and weakens any wooden support. That black mold can create respiratory problems is an undisputed fact. Failure to identify and then eliminate such a mold infestation may create a health hazard for the occupants of any building. A final reason for the guidelines is that identification and remediation should not cause additional problems. It is of no use if the initial difficulty is corrected only to have more problems surface due to the solution that was used.