Occupational exposure to hazardous substances can lead to lung and skin diseases (like asthma and dermatitis respectively). These conditions can cost millions of pounds each year to:
- industry (to replace the trained worker);
- society (in disability allowances and medicines); and
- individuals (who may be unable to work).
Using hazardous substances at work, even in small quantities, can result in physical injury and or cause health problems. Those exposed for long periods of time are generally more at risk than those exposed for short periods or to less hazardous substances.
Hazardous substances can include:
- biological agents (fungi, bacteria, viruses);
- natural substances (grain, flour, enzyme dusts, etc.);
- substances generated by work (e.g. soldering/welding fumes or wood dust); and
- chemical products used or produced at work (e.g. adhesives or cleaning agents).