Occupational Lung Disease - Why Controls are Necessary
In the last two blogs we talked about the what, when and how in regards to Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) but we haven’t yet covered the why?
We thought it was important to delve into the "Why" to provide a more holistic view as to the reasons we as occupational hygienists ultimately do what we do, protect workers health.
Before we get into the why, I should first point out that RPE should only be used as a final resort and other controls should first be considered such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV).
So, why do we need to put in place controls for airborne health hazards?
There are two parts to this answer:
1. To prevent occupational lung disease
2. To meet the legal requirements placed on businesses to protect their workers from occupational health hazards
The latter is primarily there to ensure that businesses put in place the correct controls to prevent occupational lung disease.
How big a problem is occupational lung disease?
It’s significant! It contributes substantially to work-related ill health here in the UK with an estimated 12,000 deaths per year.
Occupational lung disease is made up of a wide range of conditions from those that develop shortly after exposure e.g. legionella infections & work-related asthma to those that develop many years later such as pneumoconiosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. These diseases can be life-limiting and/or life altering where those affected struggle to carry out simple daily activities such as walking.
What causes occupational lung disease?
There are a wide range of causative agents from biological organisms, dusts, fumes, vapors and fibers that can be found in most industries where exposure can lead to occupational lung disease.
Some of the more common ones are:
Controlling airborne health hazards
This is where an occupational hygienist can help by identifying workplace hazards, assessing the risk associated with them and evaluating the effectiveness of the current controls. Where necessary they can provide advice on how to improve existing controls or recommend additional controls to help reduce or eliminate exposures.
Occupational Hygiene Services Examples:
Existing controls such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) can be checked and examined (in line with regulatory requirements) to check that they are correctly designed, adequately capturing the contaminants and safely removing them from the atmosphere.
Any Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) used can also be checked for suitability against the contaminant and the task they are being used for, as well as assessing if all other aspects of management associated with control of RPE are in place and effective (see our previous blog for more details).
Personal Exposure Monitoring can be carried out to quantify the degree of a workers exposure and compare against the prescribed legal limits or to assess the effectiveness of existing controls.
How we can help?
At Blue Turtle Ltd, we provide a range of Occupational Hygiene Services to help businesses of all types manage their workplace health hazards, including the quantification of personal exposure to assist in COSHH assessments.
Our experienced consultants can provide practical advice on how to achieve adequate control through process changes, improvements, or adopting/changing work practices to reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable.
Whatever your Occupational Hygiene needs are, Blue Turtle Ltd is here to help your business protect your workforce and help you meet your legal obligations.
Give us a call today on our free phone number 0330 024 0510 to discuss your needs or if you prefer, complete the online form with a brief outline of your business needs and/or concerns.
Blue Turtle - The missing cog in your business health!