Risks to breathing

Last reviewed on 13/09/2013 12:07

Breathing in hazardous substances at work can put your employees’ health at risk, therefore, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) place duties on you to take measures to prevent or control the exposure. Too much exposure to hazardous substances such as chemicals and some natural substances and materials at work can cause:

  • asthma and other allergic reactions
  • other diseases of the airways and lungs (e.g. bronchitis)
  • lung and other cancers.

The Health of you, your business or your staff may be put at risk, if you use substances labeled as Irritant, Corrosive, Harmful, Toxic, or Very Toxic or your staff are exposed to dusts, fumes, smoke, vapours, gases, mists and sprays where their exposure is not controlled. This risk of harm may be increased if any of your employees have pre-existing health conditions (e.g. asthma).

The printed guidance chapter on Risks to your breathing will help you begin to manage these exposures at work. The guidance helps you find the answers to the questions:

  • What should I know?
  • Am I at risk?
  • What should I do?
  • What should I avoid?

There is information on hazardous substances and additional information on a range of topics including asbestos, local exhaust ventilation and respiratory equipment.

Health Risks at Work - Breathing video

The Risk to breathing video accompanying the chapter will help raise your awareness and you can use it with your staff to begin to involve them in finding suitable solutions.

Download a transcript for the Health Risks at Work Breathing video.

For further information and support on the common Health Risks at Work check out the Where to get help section or contact the following organisations:

  • Healthy Working Lives (Scotland): 0800 019 2211
  • Health for Work (England): 0800 0778844
  • Work Boost Wales: 0845 609 6006
  • Health & Safety Works NI: 0300 020 0030

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