AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Workplace allergies and ambient risk factors

83436538 allergies Health Guides – Allergies And The WorkplaceDepending on the type of work an employee carries out, they may come into contact with various different materials throughout their working day. Luckily for many of us the things we come into contact with aren’t irritants – such as a qwerty keyboard or a modern PC monitor.

However there are also many of us who do work that involves being in contact with more than just things made out of plastic. If you work in a bakery, for instance, the risk of occupational asthma is greater than if you work in, say a stationery shop.

Dealing with occupational asthma

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) offers tips, advice and case studies for jobs where the rates for occupational asthma are high – these jobs include bakery work, vehicle spray painting, soldering, woodworking and agricultural working.

Practical tips the HSE provides should be part of the best practise for workers and include things like the use of respiratory protective equipment where it’s necessary, and working in such ways as to avoid inhalation of dust or other substances being worked with.

Additionally, one very important piece of occupational health advice is offered, and that is the need for regular health surveillance – in other words, actively checking for early signs of ill health that could be job-related.

Allergies and wider workplace health

There are of course statutory requirements and regulations regarding employers and the materials they come into contact with during the course of their work. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations requires employers to carry out various actions in order to minimise the risk from various substances. This involves things like performing a risk assessment, providing protective equipment, and emergency procedures and planning.

In working environments such as offices where there is no exposure to harmful substances in the course of work, there are of course still people who suffer from allergies and tis may affect sickness absence levels. Modern offices often limit the level of potential allergens by generally not being carpeted, having air filtration and conditioning systems, and not allowing domestic pets onto the premises.

If an employee is suffering what appear to be allergic symptoms, the most important thing to do initially is to seek a diagnosis. Once the employee has this diagnosis the employer can look at ways of minimising the effects of the allergy. In some cases alterations to the working environment can be enough to prevent symptoms appearing, but in severer cases the employee may require to manage their allergy with the use of medications if they are recommended or prescribed to them by their doctor.

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About the author: Jen Jones writes on workplace health topics on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare business health insurance.


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