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COPD Awareness Month

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COPD Awareness Month

This month is dedicated to COPD Awareness. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a broad term used for chronic lung diseases, from permanent narrowing of the airways leading to breathlessness. The most common two lung conditions are emphysema and persistent bronchitis.

Below is a quick read overview of COPD in the workplace environment.

Statistics

  • Approximately 65 million people around the globe suffer from moderate to severe COPD.
  • Two million people in the UK are living with the disease.
  • 45% of all people have COPD.

COPD in the Workplace

Hazards and Risks

  • The leading cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes.
  • Exposure to dust and contaminants in the workplace increases the risk of developing COPD.
  • Toxic fumes in the workplace can also lead to COPD.

 

Statistics

  • Approximately 15% of COPD cases are caused by or made worse by work conditions.
  • 4000 COPD deaths annually may be related to workplace exposure.
  • 40% of COPD are below the age of retirement.

Options for employers

There are several ways employers can reduce the risks of their employee’s developing COPD:

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments identify the hazards presented to your employees and the control measures required to minimise the risks. Ensuring risk assessments are followed reduces exposure to dust and particles created by hand tools or work equipment.

Contact us if you’d like to review your risk assessments.

COSHH assessments

COSHH assessments are designed to assess the hazards and risks of substances hazardous to health. Chemicals and paints create toxic fumes and contaminants, which can lead to COPD if breathed. COSHH assessments will identify required RPE for particular substances.

 

Health monitoring

When substances used in the workplace are known to cause COPD, health monitoring may be required. Seek the help of a competent advisor. Health monitoring assesses the employees’ fitness to work through medical testing. If an employee has an existing health condition, they should not work with the substance.

Options for employees

If you have concerns over recurring symptoms of COPD, speak to your GP about them.  If you know you have an existing health condition that may worsen due to work conditions, speak to your supervisor or senior management.

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