Occupational Asthma

Last Updated: October 29, 2018

Definition - What does Occupational Asthma mean?

Occupational asthma is a respiratory condition caused by work-related environments where there is exposure to natural agents and/or toxic chemicals via absorption through the skin coupled with inhalation through the nose and/or mouth. Asthma develops from hypersensitivity to an allergen and/or irritant causing a biochemical reaction in which the immune system recognizes and responds to the antigen(s). The workplace contains a multitude of existing biohazards including dust, chemical vapors, and smoke fumes, often lending to the onset and progression of occupational asthma.

WorkplaceTesting explains Occupational Asthma

Employers with lax guidelines to regulate hazardous materials and their exposure in the workplace can compromise productivity, in turn, leading to high health costs due to workers’ compensation claim benefits. Occupational asthma is a growing concern in different fields of industry whether it is an office setting or a manufacturing facility where potential health risks can vary. For instance, buildings or designated work areas lacking proper ventilation unit systems and/or negligent upkeep can predispose individuals to occupational asthma due to failure to disperse airborne pollutants.

People with asthma can experience debilitating symptoms including labored breathing, harsh coughing, and tightness in the chest. Management can adopt soluble measures that can help limit or possibly eliminate causative health hazards associated with occupational asthma. Ergonomic control initiatives directly targeting the removal and/or substitution of deficient workplace standards with conducive alternatives to job functions and processes can lower the morbidity rate.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides the groundwork for employers to adopt health and safety policies with the compliance of its employees. Instructional training, routine assessments, and clinical modalities such as spirometry and subdermal applications are useful approaches. This tactic can help mitigate or deter asthmatic fits, incidentally, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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