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.

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.