Asthma in the work place

Albeit yourself, or your co-workers that suffer from asthma, knowing how to minimise the risk in the workplace will have great benefits on your overall asthma management. Additionally, it is important to know what to do in the event that someone has an asthma attack.

Work-related asthma

Exposure to chemicals, irritants, pollution and allergens can cause a person to develop asthma, and exacerbate the condition among those that already have it.

Improving the air quality in the work place can be of great benefit. If there are no obvious isolated incidents of chemical spills, gas leaks etc, you can follow the following list to evaluate the air quality in your workplace:

  • Are any of the indoor machines / electronic devices emitting odours, particles or chemicals?
  • Is there enough ventilation to remove harmful gas / odour from the building?
  • Have you recently done remodelling that caused paint or glue fumes?
  • Are old / expired food and trash regularly removed?
  • Are outside sources of pollution such as vehicle exhausts and construction dust kept outside?
  • Are the ventilation and air-conditioning systems regularly cleaned, maintained and in accordance with the building size and capacity?
  • Are those who smoke, smoking outside, away from the building?
  • Are there any water leaks / standing water / water damage to the building?
  • Is the building regularly cleaned and checked for mould or mildew?

If you find that there is indeed something causing a disturbance, follow up with your health and safety officer immediately, to address the problem.

Remember that even “pleasant” smells can be harmful. Too much exposure to air-refreshers, body sprays and perfume may trigger an asthma attack. If your co-worker is using too much, speak up.

How to handle an asthma attack in the office

If you are an asthmatic, keep your inhaler and a small laminated card with instructions on your person, to hand to someone in the event of a severe attack.

If you are helping someone during the attack, do the following:

  • Locate their inhaler and let them use it
  • Try to move them into fresh air, away from any possible triggers
  • Do not panic, this will stress them out more. Be reassuring
  • Ask for verbal or written instructions, should they have an asthma action plan
  • Make sure they sit upright and remove anything that is tight around the chest, face or neck area – such as PPE (only if it is safe to do so)
  • If their lips start turning blue, they become unconscious, they don’t have an inhaler or they do not improve after using it, call for medical assistance via ambulance or emergency services

Mopani offers first aid training, and the FREE service of checking your first aid kits in order to make sure that you are stocked up on all the needed items. You will only have to pay for items that are restocked. It is recommended that you have this done every 6 months in order to ensure that you do not run out of any item needed.

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