Work-related respiratory diseases are a serious problem in Australia and in many other countries as well. In fact, they are the leading cause of work-related illness and death in the country. There are many different types of work-related respiratory diseases, and they can be caused by a variety of factors. Through a WHS consultation with a professional employers can get the guidance they need to ensure they follow the right procedures to keeping their employees safe.
What are the most common work related respiratory diseases in Australia?
Some of the most common work-related respiratory diseases include:
Asbestos-related diseases,Guest Posting such as mesothelioma – Caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
Silicosis – Caused by exposure to silica dust.
Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) – Caused by exposure to coal dust.
Black lung disease – A type of CWP that affects miners who work with coal.
Each of these diseases can be very serious, and can lead to long-term health problems or even death. This is why it is important for employers to conduct regular lung function testing for their workers, and to take steps to protect them from exposure to respiratory hazards.
Some of the measures that can be taken to protect workers from respiratory hazards include:
Using appropriate safety equipment, such as masks, respirators and gloves.
Providing adequate ventilation in the workplace.
Establishing safe work practices and procedures.
Training workers on how to safely work with respiratory hazards.
Monitoring worker exposure to respiratory hazards.
Employers should also provide information and training on how to recognise the early signs and symptoms of respiratory diseases, so that workers can seek medical help if they start feeling unwell. By taking these precautions, employers can help reduce the risk of their workers developing a work-related respiratory disease.
How can you protect yourself from these diseases?
As an employee, you too can take certain steps to protect yourself from such hazards. These include:
Wearing a mask if you are working in an area where there is a lot of dust or fumes.
Washing your hands regularly, especially before you eat.
Drinking plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Staying away from sick people.
Always use a dust mask when cleaning, sanding or drilling.
If you are working with hazardous chemicals, wear the appropriate safety equipment and clothing.
Avoid smoking or being around smokers.
By following the precautions outlined above, both employers and employees can work together to minimise the risk of developing a work-related respiratory disease.
What are the symptoms of work-related respiratory diseases?
Symptoms of such respiratory diseases may include:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; and/or
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent these diseases from progressing and causing further health problems. Aggravated respiratory problems would mean loss of work, loss of income and prolonged suffering.
How do you get treatment for work related respiratory diseases?
A regular lung function test is a must for those working under conditions that may cause respiratory diseases. In addition, other health assessments such as chest X-rays and blood tests may be required. Treatment for work related respiratory diseases usually involves a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
If you are diagnosed with a work-related respiratory disease, it is important to take steps to protect yourself from future exposure. This may include wearing protective equipment, changing your work schedule or working from home if possible. You should also talk to your employer about any measures they can put in place to help reduce the risk of exposure.
Workers’ compensation is available in Australia for employees who develop a work-related respiratory disease. This includes medical expenses and income replacement payments while you are unable to work. To find out more, speak to your union representative or an occupational hygienist.
There are a number of work-related respiratory diseases that are common in Australia. These include:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Each of these diseases can have a serious impact on your health and quality of life. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical treatment if you think you may have one of these diseases.
Are there any long-term effects of these diseases?
Many of these respiratory diseases, if not detected and treated early, can have long term effects on your health. For example, asthma can lead to chronic bronchitis and emphysema if not treated properly. COPD can cause permanent damage to your lungs and make it difficult to breathe.
Employers should provide the proper protective equipment
It is the employer’s responsibility to provide all employees who may be at risk of inhaling hazardous materials, with proper protective equipment such as masks, gloves and goggles. In addition, employers should make sure that the workplace is well ventilated to reduce the amount of dust and fumes in the air.
If you are providing your workers with respirators, then it is essential that you carry out a respirator fit test annually to ensure that the masks fit correctly.
If you are concerned that you may have a work-related respiratory disease, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are essential for preventing long term health effects. Employers should also provide employees with information about these diseases and how to protect themselves from them. By following these simple steps, we can all help keep ourselves safe from work-related respiratory diseases.