Spring may bring an extra hour of daylight and warmer temps, but for many individuals, it also means weeks of experiencing common allergen issues. While we all do our best to keep our homes free of allergens, the accumulation of allergens in the workplace can be difficult to address. Here are some of the best ways to tackle workplace dust mites and minimize the effects of seasonal allergies.

What are dust mites?

What are dust mites? Dust mites are invisible-miniscule insects that cause sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and more allergy-like symptoms. They are not seen by the human eye but are commonly found in your carpets, bedding and clothing. They aren't airborne but can travel with you to various locations. This makes it difficult without regular cleaning and air filtration to get rid of dust mites that thrive in high humidity and dark areas.

Knowing how to get rid of dust mites is a step in the right direction, but there's more to avoiding workplace allergens. Below are recommendations for all occupants of the workspace to tackle common allergens. Healthy instructions for employees daily and helpful practices for high level decision makers in facilities management.

Employee Level:

Deep clean regularly

Wiping down your keyboard and desk just isn't enough. Whether you're work-from-home, hybrid or full time in office, ensure the safety of your workspace with routine cleanings. Dust mites attach to items in your office like your curtains and even your favorite chair blanket. To best tackle allergens that aren't easiest seen, wash items in hot water regularly. Use microfiber cloths when dusting, as they are highly effective at capturing and removing dirt, dust and other particles. Reach in high places like your vents and ceiling fans.  Even when vacuuming, change the filter frequently, as carpets and rugs house many allergens.

Fully inspect your office space

Rainy season can also create mold in the workplace. According to the CDC, mold in indoor environments can cause a variety of health effects, including allergic reactions, asthma exacerbations and respiratory symptoms. In some cases, mold can even cause severe allergy symptoms. Mold is commonly in wet and humid spaces in the walls, ceilings, carpeting and furniture. Evaluate your workspace if you notice visible mold growth, musty odor and water damage. Regularly inspect your office space and bring to the intention of your employer immediately.

Assess whether it's allergies or something else…

Ideally, it'd be easiest to close workspace windows and doors when seasonal allergies are at a peak but that may not fully be the answer. If you continue to exhibit symptoms, you may not have common allergen issues and may need to take further steps. Help ensure your safety and those you're in contact with regularly. If the symptoms continue even after deep cleaning, soothing medications or remedies, address with your physician and take measures needed. According to the CDC, common colds are primarily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks through respiratory droplets. In the best-case scenario, inform your employer to help prevent the spread of illnesses to others.

Decision Makers

Manage filtrations

Ensure a safe work environment from dust mites for all employees through air purifiers, vacuum cleaners and HVAC systems by using HEPA certified filters. For optimal performance, HEPA standard filters should be replaced every six to 12 months. This is mainly dependent on the usage, air quality, manufacturer guidelines and overall performance. For example, those in high traffic areas or buildings in areas with high levels of allergens, dust and/or pollen will have to change sooner than six months. Do routine visual inspections of filters and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Bring awareness through postings

Display reminders to employees of ways that they can help tackle workplace allergens. For example, OSHA has posters on allergen awareness, handling allergens and cleaning protocols. These posters inform employees of common allergens, address materials employees handle that may contain allergens and inform of proper cleaning protocol. These tools in the workplace allow a presence of guidance and awareness of possible allergens for employees. Postings could inform employees about their rights to request accommodations and provide contact information for the appropriate department or personnel to facilitate these requests.

Taking a step further: Bring attention in staff meetings, send a company wide email or place a training course of meaningful information to ensure staff is made aware.

Accessible cleaning supplies

Add disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and microfiber cloths to the shopping list! Keep accessible cleaning supplies for all occupants in the workspace in areas like the janitorial closets, breakroom or bathroom with labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Reduce the risk of allergic reactions and environmentally friendly by using hypoallergenic cleaning products. Keeping accessible and routinely stocked cleaning supplies helps maintain an allergen-free work environment. Respectfully, not only allergen free but an overall clean environment that will help fight not just allergens but other common workplace illnesses.

Managing office allergies starts with regular cleaning 

Itchy eyes and other allergic reactions are common inconveniences that most people deal with on a regular basis. However, an allergic employee may not be able to invest themselves fully in the work at hand if they're dealing with symptoms of an allergy. Whether it's dust mites, mold or an airborne allergen, it's important for employers to keep the workplace clean and as free of allergens as possible.

As decision makers, it's helpful to have HEPA certified air filtration systems, practice regular cleaning schedules, and even humidity control. These are the best examples in helping safeguard occupants' well-being in the workspace. Implement a checklist to ensure routine evaluations and leave room for more items to be added to the list to check. For instance, many workspaces must set routine cleanings of areas like the staff lounge, cleaning out the staff fridges and coffee machines.