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Occupational lung disease

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Occupational lung disease – the facts

Occupational lung disease within the construction industry is a huge problem and we need to do more about it.

3,000 construction workers suffer every year from breathing difficulties and lung problems, caused by their work.

Construction workers are often exposed to dust, fumes and other hazardous substances that over time cause a range of respiratory issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

What causes this lung disease?

This particular lung disease covers a broad spectrum of many different conditions.  It is caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals or dust at work, and can lead to lung cancer. The most common forms of the disease are:-

The symptoms of all these lung diseases are very similar and include:-

The most common causes of occupational lung disease within the construction industry and related trades are:-

occupational lung disease statistics

This disease is preventable

Despite employers ensuring their workers wear face masks to protect themselves from exposure to dust and harmful chemicals, statistics show occupational lung disease within the construction industry remains very high.

The unfortunate thing is that occupational health never receives quite the same focus as safety, meaning that face masks are often used rather than putting control measures in place to reduce the exposure in the first place.

We need occupational health check ups to be carried out on a more regular basis and improvements to be made overall to the quality of these check ups.  This would help to lower the rate of occupational lung disease as it would mean catching cases much earlier and would allow employers and workers to take preventative action.

Alarmingly, many cases of occupational lung disease aren’t noticed until years or even decades later after the person has been exposed to the hazardous dust or chemicals whilst at work.

There have also been many cases where family members are also affected by breathing in the dust on workers clothing.  Then years later they will go onto develop a lung disease.  People such as Mavis Nye who breathed in dust from her husband’s work clothes over many years.  She developed mesothelioma which is an asbestos related cancer.

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Published Dec 12, 2018
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