As I Live and Breathe | Workplace Respiratory Diseases

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has reported that about 70% of occupational disease deaths are due to respiratory diseases and cancers caused by harmful exposures on the job. Molds, smoke, gases, dusts, allergens, metals and toxins in the work environment can all create a variety of respiratory symptoms and illnesses.

Below are some preventative measures that can be taken to limit your risk of developing respiratory disease due to occupational exposures:

  • Keep the workplace clean.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Substitute hazardous substances on the job with less hazardous items.

  • Use the proper protective gear, such as face masks or respirators, when the situation warrants their use.
  • Wear clean work clothing. If working around hazardous substances, shower before leaving work and leave work clothes at the worksite, if possible.
  • Don’t smoke. It can increase your risk of occupational lung disease.
  • Address water leaks and dampness in work buildings immediately to help prevent growth of hazardous organisms.
  • Ensure that management monitors and limits worker exposures to substances known to cause respiratory diseases.
  • Ensure there is proper workplace ventilation to help prevent the spread of airborne hazards.
  • Get periodic medical exams.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of possible respiratory disease, such as asthma, coughing, wheezing, nasal symptoms, or shortness of breath, seek medical advice as early as possible. For many respiratory illnesses, earlier treatment is associated with better outcomes.

For more information, see the NIOSH webpage: Respiratory Health at Work

Date Posted: 11-27-2017
Tags: occupational respiratory diseases, osha safety topics, osha workplace safety, personal protective equipment,
Categories: OSHA Safety,