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Plants are included in offices to help provide a pleasant environment. Plants add colour, clean the air, reduce noise, and help improve the mood and productivity of employees.


  • Check if you can bring your own plants into the office.
  • Care for plants in your workplace.
  • Have plants commercially supplied and maintained.

Potential harm

  • Allergies
  • Bugs and insects

Identified hazards and controls

Allergenic or poisonous


  • Plants that have allergenic or poisonous qualities.
  • People who are susceptible to skin-based or respiratory irritation from close contact with certain plants.

What workers can do

  • Check with your employer before bringing your own plants into the office.
  • Advise your employer if you suffer from plant allergies and the types of plants you are allergic to.

What employers can do

  • Discuss plant selection with a plant provider or nursery or have them commercially supplied.
  • Situate plants in places that do not obstruct any worker’s view.
  • Choose plants that do not flower and are not poisonous (see Table 1).
Table 1: Toxicity of certain plants to people, dogs and cats
Plant typeToxic to humansToxic to dogsToxic to cats
Philodendron MildlyYesYes
Pothos YesYesYes
Arrowhead MildlyMildlyMildly
Lily ModeratelyModeratelyYes
Peace Lily YesYesYes
Dieffenbachia ModeratelyModeratelyModerately
Oleander ExtremelyExtremelyExtremely
Caladium YesYesYes
Mother-In-Law's Tongue ModeratelyModeratelyModerately
Ivy MildlyYesYes



  • Larvae in the soil of plants brought into the office.
  • Small insects living on the underside of plants.

What workers can do

  • Check with your employer before bringing your own plants into the office.
  • Report any insect infestations.
  • Put all your food scraps in the bin and empty daily.

What employers can do

  • Conduct regular inspections of indoor plants.
  • Have plants properly maintained which includes watering, pruning, cleaning of dust, and replacing sick plants.
  • Have infected plants and soil removed.
  • If required, use an insecticide after hours.
Page last reviewed: 04 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 |

Date printed 01 Apr 2023