Lung disease

Lung disease is any condition that prevents the lungs from functioning properly. It can happen at the workplace if a worker is exposed to certain biological agents, chemicals, or other substances. Employers must take proper steps to prevent workers from exposure.

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The hazards

  • Asbestos
  • Silica
  • Mould
  • Chemicals (Hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, ammonia)
  • Metalworking fluids
  • Drilling fluids

Some of the common causes of lung disease by industry are:

Hazard Industry
Ammonia Agriculture
Asbestos

Construction & demolition

Pulp & paper

Chlorine

Pulp & paper

Swimming pools

Water purification

Drilling fluids

Metalworking

Oil & gas

Hydrogen sulfide Agriculture

Construction

Oil & gas



Pulp & paper

Metalworking fluids Metalworking
Mould

Agriculture

Construction & demolition

Silica Construction & demolition

How to reduce the risks

If a worker or workers could be exposed to airborne hazards in the workplace, the employer must develop and implement an exposure control plan (ECP). This plan must identify the workers at risk of exposure and the controls that are required to protect those workers. These will be unique to each worksite and work environment. When choosing risk controls, start by asking yourself the questions in the following steps. These steps are listed here in order of effectiveness.

Substitution

  1. Substitution

    This involves eliminating the hazard by substituting a safer process or material, where possible. It is the most effective control. Some questions to consider:

    • Can a less hazardous material be used?
    • Can a different process be used that generates less of the hazardous substance?
  2. Engineering controls

    This type of control involves making physical modifications to control the hazard or reduce exposure. Some questions to consider:

    • Can local exhaust ventilation be used to reduce worker exposure?
    • Can the process be isolated so workers are not exposed to the hazard?
  3. Administrative controls

    This type of control involves changing work practices and policies. Awareness tools and training also count as administrative controls. Some questions to consider:

    • Have workers been trained on the health effects of exposure to the hazards?
    • Are written safe work procedures available?
    • Is there an effective personal hygiene program for workers?
  4. Personal protective equipment

    This is the least effective type of control. When used, there must always be at least one other control in place as well. Some questions to consider:

    • Are workers using respirators as required by the exposure control plan?
    • Are workers using protective clothing as required by the exposure control plan?

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