Telephone Number (Bridge): 1- 800 - 767 - 1750 - Access Code15076#
**(Note: Please make sure that you use the # sign).**
Subject: Asthma - Workplace Allergies
Audience: All Employees, Union Representatives, Employee Health, Occupational Health, Industrial Hygienists, and Safety Officials. The NIOSH presentation specifically lists Clinical laboratory technicians, Dentists, Housekeepers, Nurses and nurses aides, Pharmacists and pharmacy aides (aerosolized pharmaceuticals), Physicians, Respiratory therapists and technicians, Research technicians (animals), and SPD (sterilizing agents).
Objective: Allergy is a relatively benign, highly prevalent condition that has a surprisingly significant effect on workplace safety, attendance, performance and productivity. Moreover, strong evidence suggests that some common treatments are often worse than the disease. This session will review recent studies on the magnitude of the problem, the impact of allergy on “presenteeism ” and other workplace indicators, the toxicological effects of treatment, and several carefully-evaluated interventions that document the benefits of skillful workplace allergy management.
Director, Office of Occupational Safety and Health (00S1)
Opening Comments - May is National Asthma Month and May 3 is International Asthma Day. In keeping with that theme ...
Slide - VA Workers Compensation Total Cases Coded as Asthma and Skin Condition - e.g., Allergy
Frank Denny, Program Manager, Occupational Safety and Health (00S1) Moderator
NOTE: The Office of Occupational Safety and Health has contacted officials of agencies and/or organizations for this conference call that can represent their agency/organization's and/or are expects in their field. However, verbal statements and/or paraphrased questions and answers (found at the bottom of this agenda), are informational and have not been cleared as policy in-of-themselves. Links have been provided to this call that allow agency/organizational polices to be viewed. Questions and answers are viewed on the intranet only.
Question: Does OSHA's recordkeeping requirements apply to asthma?
Answer: (OSHA) Yes, 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1904.6(b)(2) - "When an employee experiences the signs or symptoms of an injury or illness as a result of an event or exposure in the workplace, such as an episode of occupational asthma," each episode must be treated " as a new case." This is "because the episode or recurrence was caused by an event or exposure in the workplace, the incident must be treated as a new case."
Question: Does OSHA require the employer of record an asthma attack more than once?
Answer: (OSHA) Yes, a new case needs to be reported for each attack. If an employee were to break an arm and then break the same arm months latter that would be another case just as if someone were to suffer an asthma attack and recover then months latter suffer a second attack - each case is separate, i.e., this is not counted as a chronic condition. (Recordkeeping Pre-amble)
Question: Does PPE standard impact asthma/allergies?
Answer: (OSHA) Yes, as part of the respirator standard and assessment must be conducted and would consider all routes of agent entry. In the case of an isocyanate exposure this would include eyes and skin. Isocyanates are used in healthcare and have asthma/allergic implications beyond respiratory protection. As such, an employee wearing a respirator and short sleeves would have questionable PPE.
Question: If an employer is having the grass cut outside and air-intake is at ground level are employers responsible for allergies resulting from what is brought into the facility?
Answer: (OSHA) Yes, an employer is responsible for all hazards of the workplace and consideration should be given to closing ventsduring the grass cutting or moving the employee.
Question: If an employee is using an inhaler for asthma, does that affect the recordkeeping status of the asthma?
Answer: The recordkeeping of an occupational injury or illness is dependant on the injury or illness falling into a set of recording criteria. These criteria are as follows:
1904.7(a) -Basic requirement: You must consider an injury or illness to meet the general recording criteria, and therefore to be recordable, if it results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness. You must also consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.
If the employee’s condition met any of the above criteria and their asthma attack was the result of an occupational activity or exposure, then the asthma would be recordable as an occupational illness. The use of an inhaler is not the mitigating factor in the decision to record asthma.
The following section of 29 CFR 1904 specifically addresses the criteria under which to record occupational asthma:
1904.6(b) (2) -When an employee experiences the signs or symptoms of an injury or illness as a result of an event or exposure in the workplace, such as an episode of occupational asthma, must I treat the episode as a new case? Yes, because the episode or recurrence was caused by an event or exposure in the workplace, the incident must be treated as a new case.
I hope this response adequately addresses your question related to the need to record occupational asthma. Additional links to information regarding occupational asthma can be accessed through OSHA’s web site at www.osha.gov.