Asthma and Occupational Health for Employers

By Adem Lewis / in , , /

Work-related asthma is a preventable health condition. This disease can be caused or aggravated by exposures and conditions in the workplace. Asthma is caused by swelling in the the lung’s airways. An attack can be triggered by infections, allergens, certain chemicals, and pollutants. Asthma symptoms may include: Wheezing; Coughing; Shortness of breath; Tightness in the chest; and nasal congestion Some of these symptoms can be severe and disabling to an employee. They can occur almost immediately, or take years to develop. Common workplace exposures that can cause or irritate asthma include: Cleaning products; Cigarette smoke; Exhaust fumes; Metalworking fluids; Animal dander and waste; Airborne dust from wood, grain, flour, or latex; Paint chemicals; and Mold. Not only is workplace asthma dangerous for employees, but it can also result in high costs to employers due to lost productivity. As a business, there are some things you can do to protect your employees and your company: Eliminate asthma triggers, or find a less hazardous replacement. Reduce or monitor the level of work exposure to asthma causing agents. Create policies, procedures, and safe work practices around these agents. Re-assign affected employees to a low exposure area. Train employees on safe working practices and be sure to provide a safety data sheet that lists health hazards, safe handling, and control steps. Workplace asthma can be prevented. Recognizing the possible causes, safeguarding, and educating your employees is the key to making sure we can all breathe a little easier. This message is brought to you by the Florida Department of Health. For more information visit

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