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Occupational Asthma

On January 19th, Professor Celeste Porsbjerg and colleagues conducted a seminar on Asthma ( Asthma is one of the most common chronic non-communicable diseases worldwide. As well as within the general community, there is potential for work environments with fine dusts and certain gases to develop, trigger or exacerbate asthma in workers. Based on a Health Risk Assessment (HRA), work activities that have potential airborne exposure and risk to impact lung function are identified. A key part of protecting a worker and ensuring that the controls are in place and effective is carrying out health surveillance through qualified health professionals, specifically lung function testing (or spirometry). This is typically conducted prior to commencement in the role, at frequencies during the role (e.g. 2 yearly based on the exposure risk) and when leaving the role.

Source: Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Volume 60, Issue 12

An example of a role that would be involved in this surveillance is an equipment operator (setter) in an aluminium potline. If the operator cab doesn’t prevent dust/gas from entering the cab or the filtering system is ineffective, the risk of occupational asthma increases. ISO 23875 (although titled Mining) can be applied in other industries where operators are working in cabins for protection (in addition to gas filtering). As well as testing cabins to ensure functioning to Standard, we can include a review of health surveillance data to ensure no decline in the worker lung function, showing the controls are applied and effective.


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