You may not think that your office has toxic items. You strive to keep your office environment a safe place to work. However, if you look under the sink or in the supply closet, you may find yourself in the presence of some toxic chemicals.
These items aren’t inherently bad, but they should be stored properly and used with caution to ensure the health and safety of your workers. Here is a list of three toxic items that you might have in the office so you can keep your employees safe.
1. Air Fresheners
Your sense of smell is underrated among the senses. It enriches your experience of the world around you, and scents we enjoy or find relaxing can be beneficial to productivity or creating a positive office environment. That’s why air fresheners are so common in a lot of offices and restrooms, especially since they’re generally safer than scented candles.
Don’t get too comfortable, though. Conventional air fresheners typically have a slew of chemicals that contribute to indoor air pollution. An extremely common one is formaldehyde, which can be a health risk in large quantities or prolonged exposure. Researchers have measured high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the emissions from numerous air freshener types. This includes sprays, plug-ins, and solid air fresheners.
So while air fresheners can create a positive atmosphere, be careful about using it too much. If you want your air to smell better, consider opening a window or hiring a cleaning service to regularly vacuum the carpet in case smells have been trapped in the fibers.
2. Liquid Drain Cleaner
Liquid drain cleaner can be extremely important to have in an office when the break room sink or bathroom toilet is acting up. Plumbers are expensive, after all, and if you can solve the problem yourself, why not pour a bit down the drain?
However, the reason drain cleaner is so effective is because it’s highly corrosive. It contains enzymes and other strong chemicals that break down oily and greasy residues that clog up the pipes.
When these chemicals make contact with your skin, they can cause pain, irritation, and burns. This can come from actions as simple as accidentally spilling drain cleaner on yourself while pouring or even splashback from when it hits the sink.
So while there’s nothing wrong with having a bottle of liquid drain cleaner in case of an emergency, be careful using it. Having your sinks and bathrooms regularly cleaned by professionals could also aid in preventing the drains from getting clogged in the first place, so you won’t even need to use it.
3. Cleaning Chemicals
Every office supply closet has cleaning supplies, common cleaning chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and more. They’re effective and can kill dangerous germs during outbreaks of illnesses, which is important to keeping your office healthy and productive.
However, these chemicals have their dangers. They can be corrosive and caustic if they get on an employee’s skin while using them. When they get into the eyes or are inhaled for too long, they could result in a trip to urgent care or long-term health problems. They can be especially dangerous if improperly stored or mixed.
To keep the office safer, you should swap out the bleach for something safer, or hire commercial cleaners who offer green cleaning programs to keep even toxic residue from being left behind.
While you may not think about the potentially toxic items you may have in your office, as more and more research of the long term effects to certain household chemicals expands, it’s important to consider the safety of your workplace.