THE CSU IS GOING SCENT-FREE
The Capilano Students’ Union is starting the process of becoming a scent-free workplace, in order to protect the health and safety of our scent-sensitive colleagues. This means that we’re going completely scent-free in our administrative spaces, and asking our members and guests to consider using discretion with personal products so that we can provide a scent-reduced workplace for our colleagues supporting you in our lounge spaces and resource centres.
This policy applies to all CSU leased and operated spaces, which include:
- CSU Maple Lounge (Maple 115)
- administrative spaces (Maple 116, 117, and 121)
- CSU Members Centre (Library 195)
- CSU Tree House (Library 131)
- Queer Resource Centre (Library 190B)
- Women’s Centre (Library 137)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The CSU has an obligation under the Workers Compensation Act, and our health and safety program, to provide a workplace that is free of hazards. The CSU conducted a survey of our employees, which identified that chemical scents pose a health risk to some team members. Therefore, we made the decision to start transitioning the CSU to become scent-free.
The CSU’s board of directors (made up of current Capilano University students, elected by and from the student body) approved our scent-free workplace policy, which mandates that we transition all spaces leased and operated by the CSU to be scent-free workplaces. The board has asked the CSU’s executive director to be responsible for this policy’s implementation.
Examples of scented products that can cause health problems for our colleagues include scented personal care products such as shampoos and conditioners, hairsprays, scented deodorants, colognes and aftershaves, perfumes, lotions and creams, soaps, fragrant cosmetics, chemical air fresheners and deodorizers, oils, and candles.
Look for products that are marked “scent-free,” “fragrance-free,” or “unscented” (although it’s not a perfect system; there’s very little regulation of products labelled as scent-free). Consider checking out this list of scent-free products curated by the University of the Fraser Valley.
According to information from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, symptoms of exposure to chemically scented products can include headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, fatigue, weakness, insomnia, numbness, upper respiratory issues, shortness of breath, skin irritation, malaise, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. This not only results in health and safety concerns for members of our team, but it also risks impacting our team’s productivity, reducing our capacity to deliver programs, services, events, and advocacy.
Dealing with situations involving scented personal products can be very sensitive. You should try to strike a balanced tone, where you are both assertive, but also discreet. If someone in CSU spaces is wearing a scented product that causes you, or a colleague, or a friend discomfort, you may feel awkward approaching them – but if you do nothing, then individuals suffer in silence. Remember, in your approach, that many people are unaware of the negative impact that scented personal products can have on the people around them.
Consider these strategies when approaching someone to discuss a scent-sensitive situation:
- Approach the person discreetly.
- Clearly and courteously explain the benefits of scent-free spaces.
- Direct the individual to csu.bc.ca/scentfree for more information.
- If you feel uncomfortable approaching an individual, speak to a member of our staff.
- If you’re unable to resolve your concern, please speak to the CSU’s executive director.
If you’ve been approached by someone to discuss your use of scented personal products in CSU spaces, please remember not to take offence – this isn’t about you, but about the health and safety of our scent-sensitive colleagues. Learn more about our scent-free workplace policy at csu.bc.ca/scentfree, and consider using alternatives to your current scented products.