The air we breathe should be safe, right? Which is why as an employer, it’s imperative that you keep workers protected from polluted, unsafe air that could cause respiratory issues and more serious health problems later down the line. So, how can you ensure respiratory health is protected for your workers? Here are a few things to consider:

Do you have the correct RPE?

RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) really is the first thing to put in place when dealing with environments or tasks that may affect respiratory health. Let’s say your business works on the railway and deals with ballast dust – this can cause serious respiratory issues because of the Respirable Crystalline Silica in it. Therefore, dust masks are essential when working with such conditions. For men, shaving is recommended when wearing a dust mask to ensure the seal is effective. The correct PPE for the job can significantly minimise the risk of poor respiratory health at work.

Are ventilation measures in place?

If your employees are completing tasks in a small or closed area, then adequate ventilation is paramount. Ensure windows and doors are open to allow airflow if possible, or install filters designed to reduce the amount of hazardous substances in the air.

Are you aware of the symptoms of skin and respiratory sensitisers?

It’s important you can recognise when members of staff are becoming sensitive to their working environment. Symptoms usually include wheezing and tightness of breath, coughing and dermatitis. If anyone is displaying these symptoms you must restrict the amount of time they’re working in the contaminated environment and ensure they seek medical attention immediately.

Have your staff had training?

It’s essential that your staff are trained on how to conduct themselves in workplaces where respiratory issues may arise. Ensure they undertake training regularly and are instructed on any new measures that may come into force over time.

Do you understand your legal requirements?

As an employer, you have a legal duty to ensure your staff are protected at all times. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) require an employer to regularly assess your worker’s exposure to substances, check that control measures are securely in place, and require you to decide which precautions to take to prevent harm. You are also obliged to present your workforce with a copy of any COSHH assessments conducted by your business. These assessments should be carried out regularly.

Respiratory health is important. You must ensure you are doing all you can to minimise risk and protect your employees from serious issues as a result of exposure to hazardous substances in their working environment. Take note of this list of things to keep in mind and ensure you and your workforce are protected.

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