Just 1 in 5 monitors asthma risk, says HSE

Only 19% of the organisations potentially exposing employees to asthmagens have health surveillance, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research.

RR1139: Uptake and quality of health surveillance for occupational asthma in the woodworking, baking and motor vehicle repair sectors presents research into the levels of uptake and quality of health surveillance for occupational asthma in three industry sectors at increased risk of occupational asthma: woodworking; baking; and motor vehicle repair.

Telephone interviews were held with employers from 457 organisations, of which 67% reported carrying out risk assessments. Risk of exposures that might cause occupational asthma (in the view of the dutyholder) was reported in 42 (27%) motor vehicle repair enterprises, in 78 (52%) woodworking workplaces and in 95 (62%) bakeries.

Equivalent statistics for the specific industry sectors under consideration were 14% for the woodworking sector, 17% for motor vehicle repair sector and 24% for the bakery sector.

Reporting by the organisations surveyed showed that health surveillance was more commonly carried out in medium/large enterprises (74%) than in micro enterprises (7%). About a third delivered health surveillance in-house and two thirds used an external provider.

The research revealed that some dutyholders who were not providing health surveillance thought that they had no obligation to provide health surveillance, did not need to provide it because they were very small organisations or regarded the cost as a burden.