TUC calls for asthma law

The TUC urges the Government to introduce legislation to force firms to
address causes of work-related asthma

Up to 20 people a day are contracting asthma because of conditions in their
workplaces, the TUC has warned.

Employers are failing to control the causes of work-related asthma, and the
TUC is urging the Government to introduce a legally binding Approved Code of
Practice to set out in detail what employers must do to prevent the spread of
the disease.

The survey of nearly a thousand union safety reps in workplaces where
asthma-causing substances are used regularly, showed that few employers were
carrying out all of their general legal obligations, said the TUC.

It found that only 41 per cent of firms were carrying out risk assessments,
and only some 28 per cent were monitoring workers’ health.

Only 26 per cent provided breathing equipment, while 23 per cent provided
training and 22 per cent ventilation.

Some 8 per cent said their company had agreed to substitute dangerous
substances with less harmful ones, while 6 per cent had said they would enclose
the process exposing the worker to asthma-causing substances.

Under existing legislation, employers are required to make substitution the
first step they take.

Those workers likely to be exposed ranged from those in manufacturing to
carpenters, painters, bakers and nurses. The TUC estimates some 7,000 people a
year develop asthma as a result of their work.

TUC senior policy officer Owen Tudor said: "No-one needs to develop
asthma at work. People only get one set of lungs, and employers have shown that
guidance and general rules aren’t enough. We need a specific legal code on
asthma to breathe some life back into workers’ lung safety."


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