Work-related and Occupational Asthma
Work-related asthma describes all adult asthma where there is an association between symptoms and work, including work-aggravated asthma and a smaller numbers of cases of occupational asthma often caused directly by exposure to respiratory sensitisers in the workplace.
The latest information shows:
- There are currently an estimated 14,000 (95% confidence interval: 10,000 – 17,000) new cases of “breathing and lung problems” each year caused or made worse by work according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). A substantial proportion of these may be work-related asthma.
- Annual numbers of individual case reports of occupational asthma by chest physicians in SWORD and via the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme are much lower.
- In 2015 there were 117 estimated new cases of occupational asthma reported within SWORD and 70 new cases assessed for IIDB. These are likely to underestimate of the true scale of occupational asthma.
- Analyses of SWORD data do not provide strong evidence of a downward trend in the annual incidence of occupational asthma since 2007, although annual IIDB cases have tended to reduce.
- The occupations with the highest rates of new cases per year within SWORD were 'vehicle paint technicians' and 'bakers and flour confectioners'.
- The most common causes of occupational asthma continue to be isocyanates, and flour/grain.
Occupational asthma in Great Britain, 2005-2015