HSE update: changes to managing exposure to hazardous substances
This World Asthma Day, we’re drawing attention to occupational asthma, and how this can be prevented.
Thousands of people in the UK have asthma, a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. Symptoms include:
Although it often starts in childhood, asthma can develop in adults. Symptoms can develop immediately after exposure to a workplace substance, or several hours later which can make a link with workplace activities less obvious.
Occupational asthma is the term for an allergic reaction for some people when they are exposed to certain substances. Not everyone who experiences occupational asthma goes on to develop asthma, but once they have become sensitised, further exposure to the substance, even at low levels, may trigger an attack.
Substances that can cause occupational asthma include flour dust, isocyanates, wood dust, and latex. A full list can be found here: List of substances that can cause occupational asthma – HSE
Work-related asthma, or asthma made worse by work, is the term used for asthmatic symptoms caused by substances in the workplace that irritate the airways of people who have pre-existing asthma, including asthma since childhood.
Examples of irritants for work-related asthma include:
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, require employers to prevent or control exposures to hazardous substances to protect employee’s health.
Practical steps to take include:
Detailed information on the control of substances that cause occupational asthma can be found here: Approved code of practice (Appendix 3) – Asthma – HSE
Contact us today to arrange a COSHH Assessment, to book our Air Monitoring services, or for any queries you have about protecting your employees’ health and safety.