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Fort Lauderdale Workers' Compensation Lawyer > Blog > Workers' Compensation > Yes, Sick Building Syndrome Is an Occupational Disease

Yes, Sick Building Syndrome Is an Occupational Disease


Every time you check the news headlines on your phone, you have a good chance of finding a headline about how working in an office building is bad for your health.  Most of them are clickbait, designed to make you feel guilty about the sedentary lifestyle you follow in order to support your family financially; the purpose of those articles is to put you in a bad mood so that you will click on more clickbait to cheer yourself up.  The worst of them are thinly veiled advertisements for nutritional supplements.  If you work in an office and feel okay, you are okay.  If working in your office really is making you sick, though.  Sick building syndrome, although it is not the name of one specific disease caused by one type of microorganism, is a documented phenomenon.  It is usually caused by poor ventilation, exposing workers to mold spores or irritating chemical fumes.  Since sick building syndrome is a work-related illness, your treatment for it is eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.

What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

“Sick building syndrome” is a phenomenon where workers in a poorly ventilated office building suffer recurrent respiratory infections and headaches.  The most common causes of the illnesses are mold and fumes from chemicals used in the office.  The term gained currency in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in connection to buildings newly built or renovated during that period; some news reports even used the term “new building syndrome.”  The World Health Organization first published a report on sick building syndrome in 1986, saying that most cases have been documented in Europe and North America.  In the early days, one of the most common causes of sick building syndrome was the chemicals used in mimeograph machines, a predecessor of the photocopy machine, but today most cases of sick building syndrome are caused by mold.  More women than men have been diagnosed with sick building syndrome, probably because women make up a disproportionate share of workers who spend their entire workday in an office building.

Sick Building Syndrome Decimates Sheriff’s Office

When the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office moved its operations into a newly renovated building in 2015, the deputies began to miss more days of work because of respiratory infections.  During the renovations, everything had been removed from the building except the concrete blocks, and it is likely that the source of the illnesses is mold that has taken up residence in the concrete and which spreads its spores through the building’s HVAC system.  The building was originally built as a hospital in the 1970s.  By 2018, at any given time, 20 percent of the building’s workers were out on workers’ compensation with sick building syndrome-related illnesses.

Let Us Help You Today

You are entitled to workers’ compensation for some infectious diseases if you can show that you were only exposed to the infectious pathogens at work.  Contact the Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for a consultation.


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