How to Design an Asthma-Friendly Workplace: 7 Essential Tips for Facility Managers

How to Design an Asthma-Friendly Workplace: 7 Essential Tips for Facility Managers

Discover how transforming your workplace into an asthma-friendly environment can significantly boost productivity and safeguard employee health, setting a new standard in corporate wellness.

How to Design an Asthma-Friendly Workplace: 7 Essential Tips for Facility Managers

Creating a Healthier Workplace: Why Asthma-Friendly Environments Matter

Asthma-friendly environments are not just a matter of employee comfort; they are essential for minimizing health risks and enhancing workplace productivity.

By prioritizing air quality and allergen control, businesses can reduce the occurrence of asthma attacks among employees, leading to fewer sick days, improved well-being, and a more dynamic, engaged workforce.

This proactive approach to workplace health not only supports those with asthma but also creates a more inviting and productive environment for all employees.

Facility managers play a pivotal role in shaping the health and safety of the workplace environment. Prioritizing health in their strategies yields several key benefits:

  • Risk Management: Proactively addresses potential health hazards, reducing the likelihood of workplace-related illnesses and compliance issues.
  • Employee Retention: Health-focused initiatives improve overall employee satisfaction, which can decrease turnover and attract top talent.
  • Productivity Boost: A healthier workplace environment enhances employee concentration and energy levels, leading to increased productivity.
  • Corporate Image: Demonstrating a commitment to employee health enhances the company's reputation both internally and externally.

By integrating health considerations into their strategic planning, facility managers not only contribute to the well-being of their teams but also drive broader organizational success.


Seven Steps to an Asthma-Friendly Workplace

Start With Comprehensive Planning

  • Explanation: Developing a strategic plan is crucial for identifying and mitigating potential asthma triggers in the workplace. By evaluating air quality and allergen sources, facility managers can proactively address environmental concerns that may impact employees with asthma.
  • Actionable Tip: Create a comprehensive checklist to audit your current workplace conditions. This checklist should include assessments of air quality, potential allergens, and employee feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Upgrade Your HVAC System

  • Explanation: Modern HVAC systems are essential for maintaining good indoor air quality. They are designed to filter out pollutants and manage humidity levels, both of which can significantly reduce asthma triggers.
  • Actionable Tip: Opt for HVAC filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher, as recommended for commercial buildings, to ensure effective trapping of airborne particles.

Choose Asthma-Safe Cleaning Products

  • Explanation: The use of hypoallergenic and non-toxic cleaning agents is critical in creating an asthma-friendly environment. These products prevent the introduction of harsh chemicals and irritants that can exacerbate asthma symptoms.
  • Actionable Tip: Compile a list of approved cleaning products that are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harsh chemicals. Educate your cleaning staff about the importance of using these products.

Implement Strict No-Smoking Policies

  • Explanation: Smoke is a significant asthma trigger. Implementing and enforcing a strict no-smoking policy within and around the workplace can help prevent asthma attacks and contribute to overall air quality.
  • Actionable Tip: Establish designated smoking areas far from main workspaces and entry points, and clearly communicate these policies to all employees and visitors.

Enhance Natural Lighting and Reduce Dust Accumulators

  • Explanation: Maximizing natural light can improve indoor air quality and overall workplace ambiance, reducing the reliance on artificial lighting, which can attract dust and other allergens.
  • Actionable Tip: Rearrange office layouts to allow more natural light and choose furniture and office equipment that are easy to clean and do not accumulate dust.

Regular Maintenance and Air Quality Assessments

  • Explanation: Regular checks and maintenance of workplace systems ensure they are not contributing to poor air quality, which can adversely affect asthma sufferers.
  • Actionable Tip: Establish a routine for maintenance checks and air quality assessments, perhaps every quarter, to monitor and maintain an asthma-friendly environment.

Educate Staff on Asthma Awareness and Emergency Procedures

  • Explanation: Awareness and preparedness are key in managing asthma in the workplace. Educating your staff about asthma and the correct emergency procedures can make a significant difference in ensuring the safety and well-being of all employees.
  • Actionable Tip: Organize regular training sessions with health professionals and ensure that all employees have access to information on how to act in an asthma emergency, including the location of emergency kits and instructions on their use.



  1. MacKinnon N, Morais CL, Rose T. Evaluation of a Workplace Asthma Self-Management Program. Canadian Pharmacists Journal / Revue des Pharmaciens du Canada. 2007;140(5):326-326. doi:10.3821/1913701X2007140326EOAWAS20CO2
  2. Henneberger, P. K., Patel, J. R., de Groene, G. J., Beach, J., Tarlo, S. M., Pal, T. M., & Curti, S. (2019). Workplace interventions for treatment of occupational asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
  3. ‌Heinrichs, K., Vu-Eickmann, P., Hummel, S., Gholami, J., & Loerbroks, A. (2018). What are the perceived influences on asthma self-management at the workplace? A qualitative study. BMJ Open, 8(8), e022126.
  4. ‌Tarlo, S. M., Balmes, J., Balkissoon, R., Beach, J., Beckett, W., Bernstein, D., Blanc, P. D., Brooks, S. M., Cowl, C. T., Daroowalla, F., Harber, P., Lemiere, C., Liss, G. M., Pacheco, K. A., Redlich, C. A., Rowe, B., & Heitzer, J. (2008). Diagnosis and Management of Work-Related Asthma. Chest, 134(3), 1S41S.
  5. ‌Fishwick, D., Barber, C., Walker, S., & Scott, A. (2013). Asthma in the workplace: a case-based discussion and review of current evidence. Primary Care Respiratory Journal, 22(2), 244–248.



Implementing asthma-friendly practices in the workplace offers profound benefits beyond just supporting those with asthma; it cultivates a healthier environment that all employees can enjoy.

By enhancing air quality, reducing allergens, and ensuring a clean and supportive work setting, businesses see improvements in employee health, productivity, and satisfaction across the board.

These changes also position a company as a caring and responsible employer, enhancing its reputation and appeal.

Facility managers are encouraged to take proactive steps toward these improvements.

By prioritizing health and safety through strategic planning and sustained management efforts, you can significantly elevate the overall workplace quality.

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