Where are the hazards?

Chest problems may result from breathing in: dusts from harvesting or handling grain, mixing animal feedstuffs, feeding animals, handling mouldy hay or bedding and waste products from animals or poultry; or vapours from slurry, silage, welding fume, some veterinary medicines and disinfectants.

What are the risks?

Being exposed to dusts or chemicals at work for just a short time may cause unpleasant irritation or inflammation in the nose, throat or lungs. Longer exposure may lead to more serious chest problems, including asthma, chronic bronchitis and farmer's lung.

These symptoms can be short-lived at the time of a job or they may get worse and last longer until they are almost always present. They can be set off by even very small exposures to any substance to which you have become allergic, or sensitised.

How to control

Avoid breathing in the harmful substances by:

  • using alternative, safer substances where possible
  • changing to low dust materials, eg granules or pellets
  • enclosing sources of dust or spray
  • vacuuming spillages instead of sweeping up

Reduce the amount you breathe in by:

  • using local exhaust ventilation, eg when welding
  • using effective filters in tractor or vehicle cabs
  • maintaining filters to the manufacturer's instructions
  • improving ventilation in buildings
  • wearing appropriate, effective respiratory protective equipment

If you need to wear masks or respirators always adjust the straps so they fit properly. Store them in a clean, dry place and ­ do not hang them from hooks or nails in dirty, dusty areas (Personal protective equipment provides more information). All masks and respirators must be CE marked.

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Updated: 2021-01-18