Allergies and Asthma Attack Work Productivity

As the seasons change, we are craving the smell of fresh grass, flowers blooming, sunshine, and fresh fruits and vegetables. However, for millions of people, this is just the beginning of a long season of uncomfortable and many times life threatening allergy symptoms.  According to a study by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, Allergy Rhinitis was one of the leading condition costs in the workplace costing companies approximately $593.00 per employee in terms of productivity loss.  This is quite a bit of money and surprising, considering this is close to a $200.00 loss or more per employee than high blood pressure, migraines, depression, diabetes, and heart disease per employee.   Asthma also proved to result in an additional $40.00 per employee productivity loss.

Why Care?

Sure, allergies and asthma conditions may not rack up the same numbers in medical bills as diabetes or heart disease.  However, the danger is not in the number of money spent on bills, it is in the number of hours of work lost.  When a person with allergies wakes up and goes into work, they don’t know how their allergies are going to react that day.  So they power through the workday many times at 80% pace without even knowing it.  Employees with allergies are also more likely to touch their nose and mouth without even thinking about it which will greatly increase the spread of germs.

It is important to understand that although allergies and asthma cannot be cured, they can be managed.  By taking certain steps, allergy and asthma victims can greatly improve their quality of life.  This will reduce the likelihood of allergy or asthma attacks and increase productivity.    Here are some helpful precautions to help relieve congestion, eliminate the misery of dry, itchy eyes and make breathing easier in the workplace.

  • It is best to have a smoke free work campus, however, if this is not the case, designate an area for smokers to smoke outdoors that is not near any air vents.  This is to reduce the likelihood of secondhand smoke polluting the air inside.  Not only will the smoke aggravate allergy symptoms, but it will also affect the breathing and health of all employees greatly reducing productivity and morale.
  • To reduce the collection of allergens around the office it is best to keep windows closed, work spaces clean with antibacterial sprays, office floors vacuumed often, and air filters changed frequently.
  • Have tissues and anti-bacterial sanitizer or soap readily available in all centrally located or heavily populated areas of the work place.
  • Enforce proper hygiene protocols to encourage all employees to protect themselves from allergens and to reduce the spread of allergens as well.

The Role of Wellness

When we break down the meaning of wellness, it essentially means managing our health in order to prevent sickness.   Promoting wellness in the workplace reduces sickness and costs while improving morale, health, and overall productivity.  Implementing simple wellness initiatives during the allergy season can make a great impact on the company as a whole!

Ashlee Shondel
Health Coach

http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/creating-asthma-friendly-environments/asthma-in-the-workplace/

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/asthma/

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/asthma/OccAsthmaPrevention.html

http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/asthma-and-allergies-4/asthma-news-47/sick-building-syndrome-is-your-office-making-you-sick-646729.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16846553