When to Suspect Asthma is Work-Related

  • If asthma symptoms are worse at work.
  • If asthma symptoms are better or improve away from work.
  • If a worker develops asthma after beginning a new job.
  • New onset asthma in an adult.
  • Pre-existing asthma that worsens in an adult's life.
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Glossary

Asthma Symptoms
Signs that asthma is getting worse. These may include coughing, wheezing and chest "tightness".
Words in brown in this website lead to a glossary to help you learn more about asthma.

What to do if diagnosed with work-related asthma

The sooner an individual is no longer exposed to the substance at work causing the asthma, the greater the chance that the asthma symptoms will improve or resolve completely. OSHA has developed a guide to provide helpful information for employees and their doctors about work-related asthma. While this guide uses isocyanates as the main example of a workplace exposure that can cause work-related asthma, the guidance provided in this fact sheet applies to ANY type of exposure in the workplace that can lead to work-related asthma.

Prevention of work-related asthma

  • Substitute asthma-causing agents with less hazardous chemicals or substances.
  • Keep exposures as low as possible using engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation. Monitor exposures regularly.
  • Provide Respiratory protection if none of the options above can be done.
  • Train workers how to: recognize asthma-causing substances, protect themselves to minimize exposure, and recognize the signs of breathing problems.
  • Set up a medical screening and tracking program to identify employees with work-related asthma as soon as the disease begins, in order to reduce the chance of their asthma becoming chronic or more severe. View the complete screening protocol for workers exposed to asthma-causing agents.
  • Assign any employee who develops asthma to a non-exposed job as soon as they are identified.
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Glossary

Chronic
Long-term or life-long. Asthma is a chronic disease because it cannot be cured and it is with you for life even though you may have symptom-free periods.
Words in brown in this website lead to a glossary to help you learn more about asthma.
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Glossary

Severe
Much worse than normal.
Words in brown in this website lead to a glossary to help you learn more about asthma.