Asthma in Healthcare WorkersJune 1, 2018
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Respiratory Health Division recently conducted a study which found that close to two million healthcare and social assistance workers suffer from asthma. Compared to other industry employees who also reported a high incidence of asthma, including transportation, warehousing, and retail, healthcare workers had the highest percentage of asthma.
By identifying workers who are at risk for health issues like asthma, this study can help public health officials and employers identify ways to prevent and control asthma in the workplace.
The NIOSH used data from 2011 to 2016 from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), focusing on respondents 18 years of age and older who had asthma and had worked at some point during the previous year. Of the 21.3 million workers in the healthcare and social assistance field, researchers found that close to two million workers had asthma. Nearly 46 percent of those workers said that they had at least one asthma attack during the previous year, and over 11 percent reported a minimum of one emergency room visit that was asthma-related during that same time period.
Causes of Work-Related Asthma
Depending on the work environment and the employee’s daily responsibilities, there are a variety of workplace conditions that can cause an asthma attack, including the following:
- Chemical irritants
- Cleaning and disinfecting products
- Powdered latex gloves
- Aerosolized medications
- Secondhand smoke
- Allergens and sensitizers
- Worksite temperature
- Physical exertion
- Emotional stress
Guidelines are available that can help employers identify potential asthma-related irritants in the workplace. By limiting employees’ exposure to these irritants, it can help reduce the incidence of work-related asthma. This can be done by eliminating or substituting hazardous products, updating engineering controls, and improving respiratory protections.
If a worker continues to suffer from asthma even after these changes have been made, it may become necessary to remove the employee from his or her job, in order to control the asthma and protect their long-term health.
According to researchers, the study results can help identify workers who should be evaluated by a medical professional, particularly those who work in industries that are known to have a higher prevalence of asthma. The findings can also help employers and public health officials develop effective preventative measures for industries and occupations that experience the most work-related asthma.
In order to monitor the prevalence of asthma is specific industries, continued research and ongoing surveillance is extremely important.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Workers Suffering from Asthma
If you or a loved suffers from asthma that you believe is directly related to your work environment, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. All employees are entitled to a safe work environment. When your health and safety is jeopardized, resulting in an injury or illness, Workers’ Compensation benefits cover the cost of medical expenses, lost wages, medications, and other costs associated with your illness. Our dedicated team will fight to ensure that you receive that maximum financial benefit that you deserve. To set up a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.