The worst 5 places to work if you have Asthma

The worst 5 places to work if you have Asthma
The worst 5 places to work if you have Asthma

The worst 5 places to work if you have Asthma

Asthma affects nearly 5.4 million people across the UK and is one of the most common respiratory problems among adults and children [1]. There is no cure for asthma and in many instances can prove fatal for sufferers if it is not treated or managed properly.

Most aren’t aware that asthma can be caused or made worse from work especially if you work in certain environments. This is known as occupational asthma and figures show that nearly 200 cases of occupational asthma are seen by physicians every year, which is still likely to be an underestimate [2]. Below is a list of the worst places you could work to develop asthma or make an existing problem worse.

1. Bakeries
Flour is one of the most common causes of occupational asthma and a number of the cases that Roberts Jackson’s run are for people who have worked in bakeries. Flour is the most commonly used ingredient in bakeries and airborne particles usually fill the air so it is important to use any dust masks provided and if they are not available, make sure you ask your employer.

2. Hairdressing Salons
An increasingly popular industry for aspiring beauticians and hairdressers however the use of chemical hair dyes and straightening products tend to put staff at risk of respiratory problems. Hairsprays and other aerosols used in salons can also contribute to the development or exacerbation of asthma. Another high risk feature of salon work is the number of staff working at any one time, it may not just be a couple of people using the products but up to 10-15 employees may be using these products at any one time, significantly increasing the risk.

3. Woodwork, Carpentry and Joinery
A slightly more obvious industry for the development of respiratory conditions is woodwork. When wood is machined or sanded, particles and wood dust are dispersed into the air and surround workers based in the vicinity. Without correct ventilation and dust masks being provided the risk to employees remains high. Settled dust from previous work can be disturbed and become airborne again so a clean working environment is essential for anyone working as a joiner or in the woodwork industry.

4. Spray Painting
This does not refer to your run of the mill graffiti artist but more along the lines of motor vehicle paint spraying. The paints that are used to spray vehicles are known as 2-pack paints which are chemically known as isocyanate paints. Isocyanates are widely reported to be one of the most common chemicals to cause respiratory problems along with flour. It always advisable to use breathing equipment provided and measure the amount of time spent in a spraying booth. Leave plenty of time before re-entering the booth after spraying as the fumes are usually invisible and the air in the booths can take time to clear.

5. Welding
Welding is the last on our list of the worst 5 places for asthma but by no means the least concern. Welding fumes emitted from the hot cutting process of metal can be serious and extremely harmful to workers lungs. Chromium and nickel ingredients in stainless steel welding are known asthmagens, however different forms of welding will create different levels of fume so it is best to check how high risk your area of welding is. The HSE website provides further advice and guidance on this which can be found here [3].

These are only the worst 5 environments that Roberts Jackson see on a daily basis but there are far more areas of work that are common for causing asthma such as agriculture, health care workers and animal workers. If you would like to know more, check out our industries area of the website and see if the industry you work in could be causing occupational asthma or any other health condition [4].

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