While occupational asthma is not a wide-spread disease, bad air quality and other conditions subject many employees to unhealthy work environments. Symptoms most often occur while you are in the workplace and in direct exposure to a problematic substance. Some of the effects that you may experience include, but are not limited to:
- A tight feeling in the chest; and
- Shortness of breath.
What Causes Occupational Asthma?
You may be at risk for asthma even before you step foot into your workplace if you have a family or personal history of asthma or other allergies. However, once you reach your workplace and become exposed to that environment, your condition may worsen. Occupational asthma may be induced by any of the following agents:
- Metals (such as platinum, chromium, nickel sulfate, and soldering fumes);
- Organic dusts (such as flour, cereals, grains, coffee and tea dust, and papain dust from meat tenderizer);
- Textile-related materials (such as cotton, flax, and hemp dust); and
- Animal substances (such as hair, dander, mites, small insects, bacterial or protein dusts).
How Can The Effects of Occupational Asthma Be Minimized?
One of the primary factors that may determine occupational asthma is workplace air. Indoor air quality is regulated by federal and state laws and improvementsto to the quality of your work area could certainly affect pollutant levels. Airways in the office should be well-maintained and allow air to freely flow. Furthermore, your employer can run chemical tests to detect possible workplace hazards.
Can My Employer Be Held Responsible For My Occupational Asthma?
If your asthma results from a problematic employment environment, you may be entitled to workers compensation. In addition to the several regulations stated by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration pertaining specifically to occupational asthma, there are various other rules that may apply to the conditions of your workplace. Your employer must respect OSHA health and safety standards, which can be done by monitoring:
- Records and reports of occupational asthma (Rule 1904);
- Distribution, use, and maintenance of personal protective equipment (Rule 1910.132);
- Requirements of respiratory protection programs (Rule 1910.134); and
- Chemicals that cause asthma, such as formaldehyde (Rule 1910.1048).
Do I Need A Lawyer?
If you suffer from occupational asthma or any other work-related illness, you may be able to collect workers compensation and should discuss your personal situation with an employment law attorney.