Advice for employers
There are many things you can do as an employer to reduce the risk of occupational asthma in your workplace.
The Your trade overview page of this site provides top tips for a healthy workforce.
You can find useful guidance and information on the Asthma publications pages of the asthma website.
However, occupational health needs to be tackled through a partnership approach. Workers, Trade Unions, industry groups and senior management need to be involved to ensure a safe environment is created for all.
The leaflet Asthma at Work - Your Charter is supported by a coalition of employers, employees and health care professionals and sets out 5 easy measures to reduce the impact of asthma in the workplace.
COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health)
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations require employers to control exposures to hazardous substances to protect employees' health.
Employers must assess the risk of exposure (exposure means taking in chemicals by breathing in, by skin contact or by swallowing).
COSHH requires you to consider the substitution of harmful products with less harmful ones.
COSHH requires that all controls be kept in good working order, including:
- Mechanical controls eg local exhaust ventilation (LEV), protective gloves
- Administrative controls eg supervision
- Operator controls eg following instructions
For more information on how to control hazardous substances in your workplace see the COSHH Essentials website.
Health surveillance means regularly looking for early signs of work related ill health and putting procedures in place to achieve this.
The purpose of health surveillance is to monitor and protect the health of individual employees.
Collecting simple information may lead to early detection of ill health caused by work and identify the need for improved control measures.
All employees exposed or likely to be exposed to an asthmagen should receive suitable health surveillance.
The specific requirements are set out in COSHH and might involve examinations by a doctor or trained nurse.
HSE has produced simple guidance on what health surveillance is required in COSHH Essentials.
Suggested health surveillance questionnaires;
- Notes for responsible person (includes advice on frequency)
- Initial questionnaire
- Follow up questionnaire
The law requires employers to report cases of occupational asthma to a central point.
This is under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). Guidance on ways to make a report is also available.