Sickness absence - work related causes - asthma

Information on Occupational Asthma

  1. Introduction
  2. Suggested steps
  3. Useful links to further information
  4. Other useful references or other resources


Asthma is characterised by periodic attacks of wheezing, chest tightness or breathlessness due to a narrowing in the lung airways. A substance is considered to cause occupational asthma if it is able to both produce the biological changes associated with this hypersensitive state in the airways, and trigger subsequent attacks.

Substances which cause occupational asthma are known as respiratory sensitisers, and can be manufactured chemicals or naturally occurring materials such as hard wood dust. Once initiated the sensitisation process is irreversible. Therefore, the employer has an important role to play in controlling workplace exposures which cause occupational asthma, and in providing appropriate health surveillance, and encouraging employees to report symptoms at an early stage.

Suggested steps

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Useful links

For further information on occupational asthma:

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Other useful resources:

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