When there’s a black mold problem in a homeowner’s basement, it’s generally considered "his problem." Addressing the issue of mold removal is every homeowner’s responsibility. But what if the problem is in a commercial building?
If your employer rents office space from a property owner, and you find black mold in the building, it’s generally a good bet the problem is larger than you think. If you find black mold in the office’s common areas, you’d very likely also find it between the walls and in the crawlspace above the ceiling. If you find black mold, let your employer know immediately, and do everything you can to make sure he or she tells the owner of your office building. If your employer owns the building in which you work, it’s equally important to alert him or her to a black mold problem.
The US Department of Labor’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workplace safety, and requires all employers to comply with a variety of health and safety standards. But unfortunately, there’s no uniform federal law governing standards for mold removal, or how much mold is allowed in any given building. These laws fall to the states, which makes life difficult for anyone wondering what their protections are under the law; researching the mold removal laws for your state — if there even are any — is no simple task.
OSHA does provide guidelines and standards for mold removal professionals; if the problem is limited and a building’s maintenance staff is trained in mold removal procedures, it’s possible for businesses to take care of black mold problems in-house. But if the problem is too severe, business owners may be required to hire outside contractors who specialize in removal.
If you’re an employee, and you feel you have a mold problem in your office, it’s very important to let your employer know this as soon as possible. If you rent office space from a property owner, mold removal is even more important, since you’re charged with the health and safety of everyone working for you. If you feel you’ve exhausted every possible avenue in trying to get an employer or property owner to address your black mold problem, there are legal remedies in place.
Just because there’s no uniform federal law governing mold removal and remediation, that doesn’t mean employers and property owners are off the hook for allowing an unsafe working environment. If a consistently and demonstrably unhealthy building is in play, a good personal injury or labor attorney would have no problem tackling the issue. A simple Internet search for "toxic mold lawyer" or a similar term, combined with the name of the state the building is in, should yield fruitful results.
It’s always important, though, to be sure a lawyer is well-versed in the mold laws governing your state, if there are any. Try to hire an attorney in your state — preferably one in your city or municipality — and never hire someone who hasn’t demonstrated a reasonable knowledge of the mold laws that cover your location.
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