Workplace conditions can cause or worsen asthma. Many people work in situations that make them vulnerable to asthma while also discouraging them from getting help. Every worker has the right to a safe workplace. Immigrants, people of color and low-wage earners are especially vulnerable and should not face discrimination nor denial of these rights. Therefore, workplace policies should ensure that employees have access to accommodations or workers’ compensation for asthma that is caused by or aggravated by work.
Here are the four policy recommendations relating to workplaces found in the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda.
- Identify work processes that expose workers to substances that cause or make asthma worse and control these exposures by eliminating their use, substituting safer substances and employing engineering controls (such as ventilation).
- Establish 100 percent tobacco-free workplaces, including e-cigarettes.
- Implement fragrance-free policies.
- Provide tobacco cessation programs.
- Adopt cleaner equipment (e.g., loaders, tractors) or vehicle technology (e.g., transition to zero-emissions technology).
- Establish a surveillance system for work-related asthma using data from healthcare providers, clinics, emergency departments, hospitals, workers’ compensation databases and poison control centers.
- Promote interventions that investigate and reduce exposures associated with work-related asthma.
- National guidelines should be implemented by healthcare providers to assess work-related asthma and should include education and clinical decision support tools.
- Healthcare providers should ask their adult asthma patients about their workplace, positions and job tasks, including associated exposures and timing of symptoms.
Page last updated: November 17, 2022