Editorial: workplace health a series issue

To some, “sick building syndrome” sounds like an invented phrase designed to create a new industry.

Editor’s note: This opinion piece has changed since it was originally posted, based on the correction of a mistake.

To some, “sick building syndrome” sounds like an invented phrase designed to create a new industry.

But to those who have experienced health problems at work, the broad label – it was first coined in the 1970s – was music to their ears. It was a recognition that such annoying symptoms as sore throats or eyes, dry cough and even fatigue, that seemed to disappear upon leaving a building, may indeed have been a result of external forces rather than being related to their personal health care in general.

A recent WorkSafeBC report called out the University of Victoria for not adequately protecting the health and safety of its employees in the Sedgewick building, home to UVic’s communications department. Mould spores and high carbon dioxide levels had been found but were not definitively determined to have contributed to symptoms experienced by employees working there.

UVic had been looking into the problems as far back as 2009, following numerous complaints from staff. Still, WorkSafe, which received a employee complaint about Sedgewick in 2011, found not enough was done to remedy air quality problems in the building.

In these days of economic uncertainty, people are fearful of losing their jobs if they complain and are often reluctant to speak up when working conditions are less than ideal.

It takes great courage for an employee to stand up for their right to a healthy work environment, especially when the source of illness or discomfort is not immediately apparent. It also takes courage for management to do the right thing, even if that means spending money on something not in the budget.

As with the identity theft case that prompted the university to tighten up its security, UVic, one of Canada’s top employers, has an opportunity to show leadership again by getting to the bottom of the Sedgewick problems. By adhering to WorkSafeBC’s orders and instituting an environmental health policy for all its buildings, it can ensure employees’ concerns are taken seriously.

Just Posted

Neighbour details hearing ‘thuds’ the day girls found dead in Oak Bay

Jury at double-murder trial hears from Andrew Berry’s neighbour

‘Goodness prevails’: neighbours reflect following suspicious death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Martin Payne was found dead in his Metchosin home on Friday. Police have confirmed foul play.

Repatriation efforts work to heal and connect through history: Royal BC Museum

Victoria museum’s efforts bolstered by B.C. repatriation grant

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make public transit announcement in Victoria on Thursday

Trudeau is speaking at a campaign countdown event in downtown Victoria

Afternoon crashes tangle Wednesday traffic in Victoria

Victoria Police were kept busy with a pair of rush hour crashes… Continue reading

VIDEO: Sparrows raise their chicks in Cadboro Bay deck planter

Jill Yoneda captured 11 days up close with tiny Junco sparrows

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read