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Asthma

Asthma can be caused in a workplace simply by breathing in certain dusts, gases, fumes and vapours that can damage your damage. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and wheezing. It is important to be able to identify those with occupational asthma and what controls are required to reduce exposure.

Employers have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. It does not matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do (The Health and Safety [First-Aid] Regulations 1981). First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. If an employee needs to take their inhaler during an asthma attack, the first-aiders or appointed persons role is limited to helping them and contacting the emergency services as appropriate.

An asthma attack at work can cause both the indiviudal and their colleagues distress. Information on what an employee should do if they experience an asthma attack at work can be found here. Furthermore there is a flow diagram that is available to download that contains step by step instructions.

Information for healthcare professionals: In 2007 the Standard of Care for Occupational Asthma was produced. This article is intended to give guidance to all healthcare professionals dealing with workers exposed to agents that potentially cause asthma, and was designed specifically for this purpose in collaboration with the British Thoracic Society (BTS) Standards of Care Committee. Mindful of the fact that managing patients in practice is very different from the way it appears in guidelines, this article serves primarily to inform readers of the recent evidence base and translate this into clinical practice.

The following is a video case study describing the personal impact of occupational asthma.

Further information on easy steps to control health risks related to exposure can be found by visiting the COSHH Essentials website.

HSE has produced guidance on how to control hazardous substances at work in the leaflet, Working With Substances Hazardous to Health (INDG136 rev5).

Do you know that benefits are available to those living with lung disease? Please click here for further information.

For further information on first aid at work requirements, click here. You can also download the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 for free.

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