12 February 2020

While the majority of workplace hazards are quite easy to see—such as damaged equipment, broken machinery or a cluttered storage area—some of the most serious on-site risks are far more difficult to detect. Indeed, something as simple as the air your employees breathe can lead to costly consequences. 

Specifically, employers that operate in sectors with higher risks of respiratory irritant exposure—including woodworking, baking and motor vehicle repair—need to make proper air quality a top priority on-site. After all, failure to do so could increase employees’ exposure to asthmagens, generating complications such as occupational asthma and lung disease. 

Despite such severe implications, a recent study conducted by the HSE discovered that many organisations throughout Great Britain aren’t taking air quality risks seriously. In fact, over 30 per cent of organisations reported that they don’t include asthmagens in their risk assessments. What’s worse, more than 80 per cent of organisations that expose their workers to asthmagens on-site have not conducted adequate health surveillance.

Don’t let your organisation become another statistic. Use this guidance to mitigate respiratory risks on-site:

  • Utilise documentation — Be sure to include respiratory hazards (e.g. dust, wood, flour or harmful chemicals) in your organisation’s risk assessment and conduct health surveillance questionnaires with your employees. This will allow you to assess methods for reducing the amount of asthmagens that workplace activities generate and help limit employees’ exposure.
  • Implement proper controls — Consider workplace controls such as offering protective equipment for employees, using a local exhaust ventilation system and providing staff training on respiratory risks. Regularly review controls for effectiveness.
  • Ensure compliance — Make sure your organisation is compliant with all relevant regulations, such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.

For further HSE guidance on limiting asthmagen exposures in the workplace, click here.

Contains public sector information published by the HSE and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © 2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. This publication is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as compliance or legal advice. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.