Forbo Flooring Systems has partnered with Allergy UK to produce a comprehensive report, ‘Work Fever’, focusing on the prevalence of indoor allergies within the work environment, to support the charity’s promotion of healthy indoor environments.
Allergy UK carried out the research amongst office workers - primarily allergy sufferers - to establish how commonplace ‘work fever’ is and estimates that at least 5.7 million people in the UK could be allergic to their workplace. From nasal problems, eye conditions, dry throats, breathing difficulties, lethargy, headaches and skin irritations, 95% of those questioned had experienced one or more of these symptoms in the office but, alarmingly, over half of the group surveyed had experienced an allergic reaction whilst at work.
Maureen Jenkins, director of clinical services, Allergy UK, said: “The results are of concern for Allergy UK because it is difficult for individuals to exercise the same control over their workplace as they would do at home. Management of allergies becomes increasingly difficult when in communal spaces, so it’s not surprising that a great deal of allergy sufferers have experienced a reaction at work.”
Currently, the UK is one of the top three countries in the world for the highest instances of allergy with over 21 million UK adults suffering from some kind of allergic reaction. One of the common causes of asthma and allergies is the exposure to dust mites in soft furnishings and carpets.
The survey revealed that cleaning of offices is infrequent and does not appear adequate enough to prevent the build up of house dust mites and allergens, with 37% reporting their office is cleaned just once a week or less. With 20% of respondents spending eight hours or more at work, the combination of visibly dusty and cluttered desks, soft furnishings, poorly vacuumed carpets and a lack of ventilation is not conducive to a healthy working environment.
Julie Dempster, marketing manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, said: “The real area of concern resulting from the research is that 42% of allergy sufferers took time off work because of their allergy. 14% of sufferers actually took between four and 10 days off sick because of their allergy, figures that could be addressed by actively minimising allergens in the workplace. Due to its large surface area, a key factor in maintaining the indoor environment is the performance characteristics of the chosen floorcovering, as well as efficient and regular cleaning.”
For specifiers and end users, the impact of flooring should not be underestimated when considering a healthy interior environment and it is worth opting for either an Allergy UK approved smooth or flocked flooring that has been scientifically tested by Allergy UK and awarded the seal of approval.
Forbo’s Flotex and Marmoleum floor coverings both carry this scientifically proven third party accreditation, as with the correct cleaning regime they will not harbour house dust mites or pet allergens. The beauty of Flotex is that it offers the texture and warmth of carpet, yet its unique composition, made up from millions of electrostatically flocked nylon fibres, offers the hardwearing and washable characteristics of a resilient floor. It’s these tightly packed nylon fibres that trap airborne allergens before safely releasing them to standard vacuum cleaners. In fact, tests show that twice as many allergens are removed from Flotex on vacuuming compared to conventional carpets.
Flotex also benefits from its integral anti-microbial treatment Sanitized, which ensures constant protection against bacteria, as well as mould and stale odours. With a wide choice of colours and designs, Flotex opens up a whole new world to allergy sufferers who have had to previously steer clear of textile flooring.
The smooth surface of Marmoleum provides no hiding place for house dust mites or pet allergen, earning it the Allergy UK seal of approval. In addition, it is inherently hygienic, anti-static and easily cleaned thanks to its Topshield finish. This sustainable floor covering - made from 97% natural raw materials, 70% rapidly renewable and 40% recycled content - has been awarded 12 independent Ecolabels - more than any other floor covering in the world. With over 160 colourways available, a stylish and comfortable interior is achievable.