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Body Odor

People may have body odor for various reasons, including disability.

People may have body odor for various reasons, including disability. Individuals with body odor may not be aware that their odor is offensive to others, so employers need to start by discussing the issue with the employee. If body odor results from a disability, employers should consider whether reasonable accommodation is appropriate. Accommodations come in a variety of solutions for a specific limitation. See below for some ideas to help you get started.

  • Personal needs in the work environment: Individuals may have body odor because they are unable to take care of personal hygiene needs while at work. If so, employers may consider allowing flexible restroom breaks, providing a private area for meeting hygiene needs, allowing a personal attendant in the workplace, and allowing work from home.
  • Working around others: When individuals with body odor are unable to reduce offensive body odor to an acceptable level, employers may consider providing a private office with an air-purification system, using odor-absorbing products in the work environment, or allowing work from home.
  • Interacting with the public: If individuals with body odor are required to work directly with clients or customers and are unable to reduce offensive body odor to an acceptable level, employers may consider reassignment to a position that does not involve direct contact with the public.

Solutions:

Indoor air cleaning systems may help to reduce levels of  allergens and pollutants in indoor air to create a cleaner, healthier work and home environment. There are a number of different types of air cleaners and filtration systems; HEPA, ULPA, carbon filter, electrostatic, electret, negative-ionizing, UV, and ozone generators. It's important to know the air cleaning needs for the situation when selecting an appropriate system. A word of caution is needed when choosing an air purifier. These are less effective in large areas and need to be designed for specific irritants. For example, certain air purifiers will not work for fragrances but will work for smoke. It's important to work with a vendor to make certain of what can be effective for the situation.