Accommodating Allergies and Asthma Symptoms — Nothing to Sneeze At

In most parts of the country, spring fever is in full swing. The temperature is rising, and those legendary April showers have brought May flowers — and extremely high pollen counts. As a result, millions of people are experiencing allergies or asthma symptoms, and some of them are likely in your workplace.

While allergies and respiratory issues can occur year round, spring is an especially fitting time for employers to learn about workplace accommodations that may help employees with such conditions remain productive on the job. And thanks to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), there are a number of free resources that can help.

JAN’s Accommodation Ideas for Allergies webpage is a gateway to numerous guides, resources and effective practices that can prove useful for employees with respiratory impairments. In these publications, JAN points out that respiratory issues alone are not considered disabilities under the ADA, however, many conditions caused by respiratory-related illnesses are in fact disabilities that an employer may have to accommodate.
For example, symptoms of respiratory impairment may include labored breathing, asthma attacks, fatigue, mobility problems and heightened sensitivity to ordinary substances and chemicals. Workplace accommodations that can mitigate these symptoms include everything from providing air purification, to alternative pest management policies, to modifying the location where work is performed.

So this hay fever season — and all year round — it’s important to remember that accommodating episodic health conditions associated with allergies and asthma is nothing to sneeze at. It should be a fundamental pillar in your approach to fostering an inclusive workplace, one where employees feel comfortable requesting the supports they need to do their job better.

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