Work-related asthma affects 10 per cent of UK workforce

One
in 10 adult asthmatics have the condition because of work, and bakers are one
of the most vulnerable groups of workers, according to the Health & Safety
Executive (HSE).

Flour
and grain are the second biggest cause of occupational asthma, making some 65,000
baking industry employees potentially at risk from flour dust.

HSE
figures show that at least 600 people have developed occupational asthma as a
result of flour and grain in the past decade, although it believes the real
figure is higher.

The
HSE says employers can take steps to help prevent the illness, including
routine workplace health checks for anyone exposed to flour to ensure early
detection.

Dr
Hugh Wolfson, occupational hygienist at the HSE, says some bakeries still do
not meet health and safety requirements.

“Although
many bakeries, especially larger ones, already provide effective controls,
there is considerable scope for improvement in the industry.”

A
recent survey of 55 bakeries in the UK revealed a low level of compliance with
the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations.

By
Roisin Woolnough

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