"People think that because something smells nice, it’s safe. This is a dangerous assumption. It is very rare to find any scented products that are made from things in the natural world. Almost all commercially produced products are made with completely synthetic/man-
According to the Asthma Society of Canada, fragrances from toiletries and cosmetics can cause problems for asthmatics. It can be difficult to avoid being exposed to other people’s products and probably even more difficult to approach them about it. So how does one ‘make no scents make sense’ in the workplace?
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) recommends enforcing a scent-free policy that would reduce or ban the use of scented products like hair spray, perfume, and deodorant that can trigger reactions such as respiratory distress and headaches. "Each person's body has a unique toxic load tolerance – a tolerance level that we’re not aware of until we reach our threshold and react badly," Rice comments.
Rice recommends that every workplace have a policy on reducing personal indoor air contaminants, i.e., scented products worn by staff. It is important that this policy be explained, and where a Health & Safety Committee exits, that the policy comes from them. Rice also reminds employers not to single out any employees as it may cause conflict with their coworkers. Each situation should be handled seriously, especially when an employee requires workplace accommodation.
The employer should promote the benefits of this policy -- making the air cleaner for all employees. The Lung Association suggests an ongoing education program; when employees are aware of the health effects of scented products, they will be more prepared to handle the change. Liz Rice agrees that, “this policy should never be introduced without accompanying explanations. A ‘We Share the Air’ educational component is recommended when the policy is rolled out. It is critical that everyone understands that for many people, this isn’t an issue of personal preference or about someone not liking your perfume; for some of your coworkers this is a health and safety issue.”
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About Liz Rice
Liz Rice, Speaker and Founder of Enviro-Health Presentations (http://www.lizrice.ca or http://www.twitter.com/
Presentation photo gallery: http://lizrice.ca/