Be a Better Supervisor and Reduce Respiratory Hazards
Working in environments with respiratory hazards can lead to a variety of respiratory illnesses. Common hazards that workers may be exposed to on your worksite include but are not limited to asbestos, cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust, machine fumes, sawdust, and chemical vapors. Many of these hazards can be a significant factor in illnesses like these three common and severe diseases: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. Any of these illnesses can lead to necessary workers’ compensation and other benefits, in addition to decreased productivity, so it is important to eliminate these hazards.
Be a Better Supervisor
Asthma can originate or worsen at work, and according to the CDC, 1 in 13 people have asthma. There are many different triggers, such as irritants, allergens, and temperature or humidity extremes, that cause employees to experience asthma. Common symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Any of these symptoms is likely to stall the workday and has the potential to be dangerous for the inflicted.
When someone has work-related asthma, it is important that the condition is reported. Once causes are known, there are various steps that can be taken. The trigger can be eliminated or reduced significantly if possible, then the employee will be able to manage the illness easier. As well, the employee can be transferred to a more comfortable work area if symptoms are severe. It is important to consider all options to provide a healthier workplace.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Extreme exposure to mineral dusts, metal fumes, organic dusts, diesel exhaust fumes, chemical gases or vapors, and cigarette smoke can all lead to COPD. Symptoms of COPD don’t typically appear until significant lung damage has occurred and will likely worsen over time. Some examples of symptoms include frequent respiratory infections, lack of energy, having to clear your throat every morning of excess mucus, and swelling in the ankles, feet or legs. As well, the disease can cause cancer, high blood pressure, heart problems, and depression. Clearly, it is preferable to avoid COPD.
The best way to reduce the likelihood of COPD development is by reducing workplace respiratory hazards and requiring regular medical exams for employees who work in high risk environments. COPD is not often visible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Most people are at least 40 years of age when symptoms first develop, but 15 years of hazardous exposure can do a lot of damage, both to the victim and the company.
According to Mayo Clinic, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing more people each year than colon, prostate, ovarian, and breast cancers do, combined. It is estimated by the Canadian Cancer Society that between 1 out of 17 to 1 out of 14 people will die from lung cancer in their lifetime. There are many risks, some examples include smoking, secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, and other carcinogens (i.e. chromium, arsenic, nickel). Symptoms of this cancer involve shortness of breath, coughing up blood, pain, and often spreading to other parts of the body.
Like COPD, the best ways to reduce lung cancer in the workplace is to reduce respiratory hazards and offering regular medical exams for employees at higher risks. It is important to supply the appropriate protection needed for the job and to create a work environment that is safe to breathe in. It saves the company money in the long run to protect their employees’ lives.