Moulds and Viruses in the Workplace – WHS Canberra

If left unchecked, moulds and viruses can undermine work health and safety (WHS) in the Canberra workplace. In this blog post, we highlight some of the moulds and viruses that threaten health and safety. For the record, regular surface cleaning reduces the likelihood of staff and customers coming into contact with some moulds and viruses.

Moulds

Moulds are fungal growths that reproduce and spread via spores. Moulds produce allergens, irritants, and toxins (in some cases) that can cause sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma attacks, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP). Moulds typically develop in moist and humid environments, such as kitchens, bathrooms, roof cavities, carpets, and air-conditioning equipment.

Alternaria

Alternaria is a common mould that causes an allergic reaction in some people, especially those with asthma, allergies, and compromised immune systems. As a bioaerosol, Alternaria is usually found on carpets, windows, and doors in workplaces.

Aspergillus

Aspergillus is a fungus that often lives in air-conditioning systems, which circulate the spores in bioaerosol form. Some people – particularly those with asthma and compromised immune systems – can react negatively to Aspergillus (even developing invasive Aspergillosis).

Aureobasidium

Aureobasidium is a yeast-like fungus that’s usually coloured black or pink. Aureobasidium is typically found in kitchens, wooden window frames, wall crevices, bathrooms, and air-conditioning units – not to mention behind wallpaper.

Cladosporium

Cladosporium is a slow-growing mould that ranges in colour from grey and olive-brown to brown and black – though it’s sometimes invisible to the naked eye. Cladosporium is found on window sills, curtains, carpets, bathroom benchtops, and insulation materials.

Mucor

Mucor is a fast-growing fungus with a white, beige, or grey colour. It isn't a threat to most humans in good health, though people with underlying health issues can develop mucormycosis. Mucor is found in dust, carpets, and ventilation ducts.

Penicillium

Penicillium is a fungus that’s found on wallpaper, carpets, curtains, leather sofas, and chair fabrics. It’s not unusual to find Penicillium in water-damaged buildings. Some species of Penicillium produce mycotoxins that are harmful to humans.

Stachybotrys chartarum

Stachybotrys chartarum – also known as black mould – is a slow-growing fungus that develops in cellulose building products (for example, drywall and wallpaper) that are water-damaged. Stachybotrys chartarum is sometimes implicated in cases of sick building syndrome (SBS).

Viruses

Viruses are microscopic organisms that infect hosts, such as humans, animals, and plants. Viruses replicate and often cause illness once they gain traction in a host. Many viruses are dangerous to humans, but modern medicine is equipped to manage most. Infected people (staff and customers) usually introduce viruses into the workplace.

COVID-19

COVID-19 is officially known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It’s a recently discovered coronavirus that’s highly transmissible between humans. COVID-19 can also be contracted indirectly via contaminated surfaces and air conditioning systems (infected droplets).

Norovirus

Norovirus is a common and easily-spread virus that causes gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea are common symptoms). Norovirus is usually spread via human touch or contaminated surfaces, such as door handles, bathroom taps, toilet seats, and kitchen appliance handles.

Influenza

Influenza is a contagious virus that affects the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and lungs. In extreme cases, influenza can cause pneumonia. Influenza is transmitted via droplets (courtesy of other people coughing and sneezing). Influenza can live on hard surfaces for days.

To enquire about how Sleek Cleaning Services can assist with your work health and safety (WHS) obligations in Canberra, please call 0415 147 240 or email admin@sleekcleaningcanberra.com.