Action Steps for Indoor Chemicals

What workers can do

When workers suspect their health problems are caused by chemicals in their work areas, workers should:

  • Report their concerns immediately to supervisors or those persons responsible for building safety and health or maintenance.
  • If necessary, see their doctor or health care provider.
  • Avoid the use of air fresheners and room deodorizers. These can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.
  • Properly store all foods and dispose of trash promptly to prevent odors.

What management and building owners can do

When workers suspect their health problems are caused by exposure to chemicals in their work environment, owners and managers should:

  • Always respond when occupant health concerns are reported.
  • Establish clear procedures for recording and responding to building-related complaints to ensure an adequate and timely response.
    • Log all complaints or problem reports.
    • Collect information about each complaint.
    • Ensure confidentiality.
    • Determine a plan for response.
    • Identify appropriate resources for response.
    • Apply remedial action.
    • Provide feedback to building occupants regarding the complaint and response actions.
    • Follow-up to ensure that remedial action has been effective.
  • Identify and repair all areas of water incursion.
  • Schedule building renovation projects after work hours or when the building is unoccupied.
    • Open windows or increase ventilation to dilute chemical odors.
  • Ask your product suppliers for information on chemical emissions and potential health hazards.
  • Choose products that emit low or no VOCs when choosing new or replacement carpets, flooring, office furniture, and paints.
  • Choose low VOC emitting cleaners.
  • Ensure that the manufacturer’s instructions for the use of all cleaning products are followed.
    • Dilute products to the recommended strength before using.
    • Prohibit mixing of cleaning products.
  • Properly store cleaning and maintenance chemicals with containers closed and tightly sealed.
    • Do not store chemical products in equipment rooms where they could contaminate the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.
  • Provide proper ventilation and maintain the HVAC systems.
  • Apply pesticides only when the building is unoccupied. Follow the integrated pest management (IPM) system to prevent risks of exposure.

You can learn more about potentially hazardous housekeeping or maintenance products by requesting a copy of the safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS contains complete information about a product, including all safety precautions. Request a copy by calling the manufacturer’s number on the product.