Are Your Workers At Risk Of COPD?

On 21 November 2018 the British Lung Foundation launches World COPD Day. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This term describes a group of conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs due to a narrowing of the airway. The result is breathlessness that can make everyday tasks a real challenge and dramatically reduce quality of life.

Whilst smoking is recognised as being the main cause of COPD, many workplace substances can also give rise to this condition. Under the COSHH Regulations employers are legally required to assess and control the risks from these substances. So which substances can cause COPD? The most common ones are:

  • Grain and flour dust.
  • Fumes given off during welding.
  • Silica (present in bricks, stone, and various minerals).
  • Cadmium (present in many pigments, batteries, or as a coating on steel).

These substances are so widely-used that the risks are present in a range of occupations, including:

  • Construction.
  • Mining and quarrying.
  • Flour and grain workers in the food industry.
  • Foundry workers.
  • Pottery / ceramics workers.
  • Stonemasons.
  • Plastics industry.
  • Welding and fabrication work.

If you are to minimise the risks to your workers from this debilitating disease you need a full understanding of how to control their exposures to such substances. Safety Management can help. If you require further assistance assessing and controlling risks in your workplace, please contact Graham Newport who would be very happy to assist.

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