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Triggers at work - what can I do?

The stuff the cleaners use trigger an attack. If I'm walking past them, I can hold my breath but if they come into our area to start cleaning desks or windows, there's nothing I can do except move away (if I spot them before they start).

Also eveyone in my team knows Flash wipes badly affect me (they are citrus) and my manager got one out on Friay. I moved away as soon as I smelt it but it was too late and I had to take my inhaler 4 times before my breathing improved. I'm taking in some wipes I know are OK but I wasn't at my best on Friday (I was supposed to go and visit - and talk to - several people but only managed the most urgent and that was late) or on Wednesday when a cleaner arrived and started spraying the windows.

2 Replies

Hi Your employers have a LEGAL duty of care to ensure that anyone that has a reaction to what are called respiratory sensitisers is protected as much as possible and as it is cleaning materials, it is very easy to resolve. It is slightly different if it were ingredients or chemicals used in manufacture but this isn't.

Have a look at this leaflet from COSHH

You must highlight this to your HR department and Occupational Health if you have one. I would suggest putting it in writing.

I have very similar problems to you and my employers have changed the products they use in the office and do deep cleaning when I am out of the office to make sure that I am not affected.

Don't let this go - it is a legal requirement and they must take action.

Good luck



A word of caution, yes employers have a duty of care and they have to make reasonable adjustments. However, their idea of 'reasonable' may not be the same as yours. When I raised problems with air quality in the local office (cycling distance) the solution offered was to transfer me elsewhere (60 miles round trip / day). And as I had a clause in my contract stating I could be moved anywhere at any time, it was perfectly 'reasonable' in a legal sense. Hopefully your employers will be a bit more supportive than this.


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