Mold can present serious issues for a business. It can cause health concerns for employees, particularly those with asthma or allergies. And that can lead to lost productivity or work hours.
Especially with the current hurricane season, plenty of businesses are likely to deal with water damage that could lead to mold. So whether you’ve experienced a natural disaster or just a simple roof leak, here are some tips you can use to avoid or deal with mold.
How to Handle Mold at Work
Keep Flood Insurance Current and Documentation Accessible
The best possible thing you can do to avoid mold after a major flood is to call in a professional water damage and mold remediation company as quickly as possible. The longer you are delayed by insurance or other factors, the higher the chances of mold spreading through your location.
Matt Phillips, President of water restoration and mold remediation service AdvantaClean said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “A lot of businesses will keep their insurance documents in the building. But if it floods, you probably can’t get the information you need and then it becomes harder for you to get repairs or restoration services as quickly as possible.”
Clean Up Leaks Right Away
Even if you’re not dealing with a major weather event, mold can still present an issue wherever moisture is present. So to prevent it from starting in the first place, you need to find any sources of water around your office or store and stop the problem at the source. Call a plumber to deal with leaky pipes, have your roof fixed or do whatever it takes to stop water from getting onto the surfaces around your building.
Install Proper Ventilation
In areas where there tends to be a lot of steam or moisture in the air, like bathrooms, kitchens or laundry facilities, you need to have proper ventilation set up to get that moisture out as quickly as possible. Install fans or vents overhead. And if you need a little extra temporary help, bring in some standing fans and have them blow humid air away from the area.
Monitor Your Humidity Levels
If you’re unsure about the humidity levels in your building, there are some inexpensive monitors you can purchase that will indicate the general amount of moisture in the air and alert you to any spikes. AdvantaClean’s CEO and founder Jeff Dudan says that the company doesn’t endorse any specific models, and to be wary of using these tools for monitoring other harmful substances like VOCs, but said they can be useful for gauging humidity.
If mold is present in your facility, it’s best to leave the actual cleaning to the professionals rather than relying on homemade or store-bought solutions.
Phillips says, “A lot of people think they can just go after mold on their own using bleach. But bleach has water in it, so even if it kills some of the spores, it still adds moisture and lets the mold keep growing.”
Cordon Off the Area
One of the first things a mold remediation company will do upon arriving at your location is to separate the affected area from the rest of the property to prevent mold spores from spreading. This is another area best left to the pros. But if you end up waiting any length of time for service, it can be helpful to simply separate the area with water damage by closing doors or shutting vents to reduce the risk of a more widespread problem.
Remove Contaminated Items
You may also reduce the risk of mold by removing any water damaged items like furniture or rugs from the space as quickly as possible. It’s important that you take safety precautions when entering a water damaged area. But if you’re dealing with a small or moderate leak issue, you may be able to prevent the spread of mold spores by simply removing the damaged items.
Take Employee Complaints Seriously
For businesses in particular, it’s important to take any signs of mold seriously. Obviously, your first concern should always be the health of your team. But there could also be legal ramifications if you ignore any signals.
Phillips adds, “As soon as an employee complains about mold, it’s very important that you encourage them to see a health care provider and then get an inspection and testing done in the building. We’ve seen a lot of cases of employers that don’t respond right away and then run into legal issues.”
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