Prevention and Treatment
An employer should know
- Getting rid of the cause of work related asthma is the best answer. This means working in a place where you can substitute a material/chemical with a different one or work in a place where there are no substancesthat can cause asthma.
- If working in a place where changing materials is not possible, exposure should be minimized using engineering controls. Good, safe enclosures and local exhaust should be provided at all points where dust, vapors, gases and fumes are released. It is also important to know that engineering controls need regular care and should be tested often in order to prevent work hazards such as spills or leaks.
- Providing training to employees on safe working and housekeeping methods is a great way to prevent injuries.
- Good handling procedures and work practices should be developed. Showers and company laundered coveralls may be needed. This is important to protect workers who may be exposed.
- Giving personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers and training them on how to use them well is also a good way to help reduce illness and injuries.
- If all of the options for controlling the dangers have been looked at and there is still a problem, you may have to wear protective gear like a respirator. All workers should be trained how to use and care for their respirators.
- There are safe ways to handle sensitizing materials. Telling workers about dangers in the work area is important and proper training should be given so people can stay safe at work.
- Consult an occupational hygienist.
- Learn about the hazards in the workplace by talking to your health and safety agent
- Follow safe work practices
- Use PPE
- Report any problems with equipment or ventilation systems
- Join in health and safety programs in your workplace.
- Be aware of the early signs of occupational asthma
The treatment of work related asthma star ts with control of workplace exposures that have caused or keep making your asthma worse. Long-term medical treatment of occupational asthma may not be needed if your workplace exposures are controlled. Sometimes, occupational asthma does not go away even after the exposures are removed. If this is the case, medical treatment is the same as that for any other asthma. Drugs that you breathe in (like puf fers) are common treatment for asthma. There are different types of these drugs including ones that decrease inflammation and ones for quick, sometimes emergency use. If you need to use lots of these types of drugs your asthma is not being controlled
Where to go for Help
- Let your joint health and safety committee member know about your concerns.
- Visit your family doctor
- Contact the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers in your area if you wish to see a health expert who can assess your problems.
- Consult your union staff about your options before telling the company of a health reason for changing work