Protective Measures to avoid workplace allergen/irritants

Previous post- workplace allergy; where is the risk?

Best treatment for workplace allergy is avoidance of allergen but one can not just stop going to work…So certain measures should be taken to reduce the risk.

Sensitized workers should be removed from the offending environmental agent and the workplace modified or they can be relocated to another work area. People with irritant reactions may work with protective measures which should address worker and work environment.

Personal control-

  • Nutritional support of body defenses especially Vitamin C, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
  • Keep good hygienic measures by frequent hand washing but avoid excessive washing as resulting dryness may actually predispose to allergic/contact dermatitis.
  • Use masks, gloves, and protective clothing. Air hoods are better than simple filter-type face masks to adequately protect from exposure to allergens. A helmet with a respirator that protects against dusts can also be used. Gloves may sometimes actually cause contact dermatitis or certain irritants may penetrate through it and trapped inside.
  • Health Education and awareness regarding occupational allergy Posters and newsletter articles) is very important.
  • Workers in high risk areas should have routine checks for work related allergic sensitization by means of Skin Tests and Lung Function Tests.

Environmental control-

  • Keep your work area uncluttered as dust and molds gets collected over piles of papers, books, and files.
  • Dust your workplace regularly using a damp cloth. Tiles, plumbing fixtures, Leather goods should be regularly inspected and wiped down with Milton or Lysol.
  • Reduce moisture, as relative humidity greater than 40 percent increases mold growth.  Don’t use carpets in areas with dampness. Remove anything damaged by water including carpet pad to prevent establishment of a mold colony.
  • Clean humidifier regularly of the mold in the water container. Try lowering the thermostat.
  • Improve the air quality and circulation by periodic checking of work place air exchange system.
  • Use an air purifier which can help keep the air around your workstation clean. Environmental Control measures include the use of ventilated spray-paint booths, extractor fans, respirators and visors.
  • Ask coworkers not to smoke around you as Cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke can aggravate allergies.

Allergic diseases in the workplace is a cause of growing concern for work related morbidity and absence from work. Every effort should be taken at all possible levels to protect from allergen. Further research is needed to answer questions concerning threshold levels for initial sensitization and post-sensitization reaction-producing levels.

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