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Work-related asthma and how to prevent it
He never smoked, was in good physical shape, and had been healthy for most of his life. So when the coughing and wheezing began, and then worsened, Michel knew something was very wrong. His doctor questioned him about the years he had spent at a workplace without proper ventilation - breathing in harmful chemicals. After further investigation, many tests and examinations, Michel's doctor diagnosed him with occupational asthma.
Asthma is a common lung disease that creates narrowing of the air passages making it difficult to breathe. It can affect your overall quality of life and your ability to work, and when asthma is not managed, it can even threaten your life. If you are exposed to certain workplace chemicals or agents, you may be at risk for developing occupational asthma.
Often people with work-related asthma do not realize that their symptoms are related to their work because they are the same as those for regular asthma: attacks of difficult breathing, tightness of the chest, coughing, and wheezing. However, in work-related asthma, the symptoms are usually worse on working days, and improve when the person is away from the workplace - on the weekend, days off and during vacations.
There are 2 types of work-related asthma:
Tips and Tools
Burns from hot plastic; injuries from expelled fragments; harmful effects from inhaled vapours or fumes; electric shock; crushed or amputated limbs; and even death - these are some of the hazards faced when working with horizontal plastic injection molding machines.
To help prevent injuries and illness in the plastics processing industry, the Institut de recherche Robert-SauvÃ© en santÃ© et en sÃ©curitÃ© du travail (IRSST) collaborated with professionals from the plastics processing industry to produce a simple tool for checking safeguards for horizontal plastic injection molding.
Thermoplastic injection molding machines produce molded plastic parts by melting plastic pellets, injecting the molten material into a mold, and cooling the plastic material. This process involves many machine parts and tasks such as opening the operator's gate, servicing and maintaining the machinery (lockout/tagout), and manually feeding the plastics materials. Any one of these processes can cause a worker harm if the proper precautions are not taken.
The IRSST's Horizontal Plastic Injection Molding Machine - Safety Checklists is a collection of practical safety checklists for individuals who perform various tasks on these machines, such as production, tuning, or maintenance. The following checklists are available:
Free webinars demystify work-related asthma
Asthma is a serious illness, affecting about three million people in Canada. It can affect your overall quality of life and if not managed, can be life-threatening, cause permanent disability, and even lead to death. Work-related asthma - asthma caused by exposure to an agent in the workplace - is the most common occupational respiratory disorder in industrialized countries. It can greatly affect an individual's ability to work. Early, accurate diagnosis and treatment, plus changes in the workplace, can make a difference to the well-being of patients and their co-workers.
To help reduce the high financial and human health costs of work-related asthma, the Ontario Lung Association in collaboration with Ontario Thoracic Society Provider Education Program, McMaster University, the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, and Health & Safety Ontario are providing workers, employers and primary care healthcare providers with up-to-date guideline-based education on work-related asthma through a two-part webinar series.
The webinars will be presented by Dr. Michael Pysklywec, Occupational Health Physician, and Michelle Tew, Occupational Health Nurse, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc., and each event will run 90 minutes long.
Work-Related Asthma: Breathe Easier - Part 1
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EST
This first webinar focuses on recognition and management of work-related asthma in the worker/patient.
Mental illness is more common than you may think. A recent survey showed that half of adults in Canada are either affected by mental illness or know someone who is. Mental illness has a tremendous cost to individuals, employers and society overall. There has also been an increasing understanding of mental health issues and work/life concerns, the impact they can have on workplace performance, and how they are critical to the healthy functioning of workers and the success of organizations.
This month's Health and Safety To Go features a podcast on psychological health and safety. Merv Gilbert, Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University and Gerry Culina, General Health and Safety Services Manager at CCOHS, discuss the powerful and expanding impact mental health problems have on the workplace.
The podcast runs 11:40 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.
CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips and insights into the health, safety and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience...or on the go!
See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode.
For more information on workplace mental health, visit our website, Healthy Minds at Work.
Registration now open for this national 2-day event
Forum IV is a two-day tripartite, national event that will bring subject experts, workers, employers, and governments into one dynamic setting, to share their knowledge and experience around the growing concern for total worker health and well-being.
Forum IV is an opportunity for participants to collaborate on integrated, comprehensive approaches to total health and wellness at work. There is a connection between the mental, physical, and psychosocial aspects of both the work and non-work environments. Injuries, illnesses, high stress levels, chronic absenteeism, low morale and dissatisfaction - all can have a devastating effect on workers, families, and organizations.
Through the key discussion topics of mental health, psychosocial work factors and musculoskeletal disorders, harassment and bullying, and integrated workplace health and safety, participants will work together towards solutions for the total health of workers, in vibrant, engaged and balanced workplaces.
Participants will take part in interactive workshops and benefit from presentations by leading workplace health and safety experts.
This will be CCOHS' fourth national forum. The most recent was held in Gatineau, QC, and brought together hundreds of participants from across Canada who shared their experiences while putting forth recommendations on how leadership can positively impact the health and safety of workers.
"An excellent opportunity to meet new people, to be exposed to new ideas â¦ to know what challenges people from different businesses and industries face."
-- Past CCOHS Forum Participant
Visit the Forum IV website for the latest information on all the topics and speakers. Register now and save $100. Special rates for CCOHS Members and full-time students are also available.
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The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.
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