What is Occupational Asthma and What Can Employers Do About It?

If you’ve never suffered from asthma before but then experience the symptoms due to the work you do, you might well have occupational asthma.

Just like many people who have their asthma symptoms triggered by allergies in the home like dust mites, pollution or pollens, some people can have their asthma triggered by allergens in the workplace too – this is known as Allergic Occupational Asthma.

It can often take some time for your immune system to become sensitive to such allergens, so you may have been working somewhere for weeks, even months or years before you start experiencing the symptoms of workplace asthma.

As well as the more common Allergic occupational asthma there is also a non-allergic type of asthma which can be brought on by breathing in a chemical at your workplace, irritating your airways and causing similar symptoms which is known as Irritant-induced occupational asthma.

Irritant-induced asthma usually only occurs when there is a chemical spillage in the workplace or a worker is exposed to substances such as chlorine or ammonia. If there is a spillage at your workplace and you start to experience wheezing, coughing, breathlessness or tightness of the chest, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

COULD YOU BE SUFFERING FROM OCCUPATIONAL ASTHMA?

Carry out the quick assessment below to see if there’s a link between your asthma symptoms and your work:

  • Have your asthma symptoms started as an adult, or have your childhood asthma symptoms returned since you started working?
  • Do you have other symptoms, such as rhinitis (sneezing, itchy, runny nose) or conjunctivitis (itchy, red, and inflamed eyes)?
  • Do your symptoms improve on the days you’re not at work (when you’re on holiday, for instance)?
  • Do your symptoms get worse after work, or disturb your sleep after work?

WHAT AN EMPLOYER CAN DO TO PREVENT WORKPLACE ASTHMA

Your employer should carry out a workplace assessment to identify potential allergens, followed by a discussion between fellow employees and a workplace health and safety officer on appropriate strategies to minimize or eliminate exposure.

This could be anything from installing a more effective ventilation system or placing dangerous chemicals in a fume cupboard but sometimes it could be something as simple as perfumes and air fresheners are the most likely to cause problems, which can easily can be addressed.

The more time you spend exposed to allergens, the more likely you are to have permanent lung inflammation and airway hypersensitivity. That’s why it’s important for employees to raise issues of indoor air quality or occupational asthma, at the earliest opportunity.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUFFER FROM OCCUPATIONAL ASTHMA

If you think you are suffering from Occupational Asthma you should collect as many details as you can, such as what you think may have caused it when it, who was supervising and what action was taken. This information can be vital should you proceed with a workers’ compensation claim.

You will also require the services of an experienced and reputable law firm and that’s where Harvey & Carpenter can help. With over 50 years’ experience we are specialists in workers’ compensation, workplace injury and accidents, and social security disability.

Call us today at (507)-779-7529 and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.