Breathe Easy | Workplace Exposures & Asthma

Workplace exposure to dust, mold, chemicals, and other substances can cause the lung disease ‘Work-Related Asthma’. Exposure to these substances can occur through inhalation or skin contact and the resulting asthma can take days, months, or years to develop.

Workers with asthma symptoms such as cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest tightness should see a doctor as soon as possible for evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment of work-related asthma are crucial, as the condition can lead to missed work, long-term lung damage, disability, and eve

A known cause of work-related asthma is a group of chemicals called isocyanates. These chemicals are included in many common products, such as: Glues and adhesives; Paints, lacquers, varnishes, sealants, finishes, and ink; Insulation materials; Polyurethane foam; and Polyurethane rubber.

Common jobs where workers may be exposed to these asthma-causing chemicals are: Building construction; Painting; Foam blowing and cutting; Electric cable insulation; Textile, rubber and plastic manufacturing; Printing; and more. Before working with known asthma-causing substances, workers should receive training about the hazards, as required by OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard.

It’s important to note that work-related asthma can occur in workers with or without a previous history of asthma. Additionally, even if asthma-causing substances are removed from the workplace, the condition can continue. It’s also possible for workers to develop work-related asthma when protective equipment, such as respirators, are used on the job.

Early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of work-related asthma are critical in providing affected workers with a better health outcome. If you have symptoms of work-related asthma, please consult with your doctor.

For more information on this topic, please see OSHA’s Isocyanates Safety and Health Topic. For information on online HAZCOM training courses, see our OSHA HAZCOM training page.

Date Posted: 06-17-2015
Tags: osha safety topics, osha safety training, osha workplace safety, work related asthma,
Categories: OSHA Safety,