NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search
Occupational health problems in offices - a mixed bag.
Human aspects in office automation, Elsevier series in office automation, no. 1. Cohen BGF, ed. New York: Elsevier Science Publishers, 1984 May; :7-14
A number of NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations conducted in response to complaints of office workers are summarized. Complaints of skin and eye irritation among office staff and faculty at a school were found to be related to heavy exposure to carbonless paper during marking periods. Analysis of the paper revealed no sensitizing agents or significant irritants. The problem was alleviated by spreading marking papers over several days, frequent hand washing during handling of the paper and reassurance that the paper was not hazardous to work with. Intermittent episodes of dizziness, burning eyes, skin rashes, headaches and nausea among office workers in a trading company were found to be triggered by a change in the ventilation system in the building which resulted in drift of solvent vapors from an adjacent graphics plant into the trading company office. No further complaints arose after the ventilation system was modified to create a positive pressure return and increase the amount of makeup air. Exposure to a sprayed on asbestos (1332214) mineral wool insulation in the suspended ceiling of a three story office building was found to be the etiology of outbreaks of skin rashes among the employees in the building. Investigation of the pattern of outbreaks revealed that they were associated with intermittent work involving the ceiling. The problem was exacerbated by a consistently low humidity in the office building. Two examples in which a new odor or illness precipitated a crisis of concern were found to be related to an underlying dissatisfaction with the general air quality in the office environment. The authors conclude that the problems presented in offices are varied and often extremely complex; it may be necessary to deal with both social and toxicological components.
Office-workers; Workplace-studies; Eye-irritants; Skin-irritants; Environmental-contamination; Air-quality; Sociological-factors; Solvent-vapors; Ventilation-systems
Human aspects in office automation, Elsevier series in office automation, no. 1
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division