Purpose and scope of the guidelines
The purpose of these guidelines is to assist the Health & Safety
Commission's and Health & Safety Executive's aim to reduce the
incidence of asthma caused by substances at work by 30% by 2010.
The intent of the guidelines is to improve the prevention,
identification and management of occupational asthma in primary care
and in occupational health settings by providing evidence-based
recommendations on which future practice and management can be based.
It is also intended that information aimed at safety representatives,
workers and managers will provide practical guidance for action.
Summaries of the evidence-based recommendations for general practice,
occupational health and for managers, workers and safety
representatives appear in the appendices of this publication and are
also available separately.
The guidelines are aimed at doctors and nurses working in general
practice, occupational health and respiratory medicine and at
employers, safety representatives and workers who may be exposed to
substances at work that can cause asthma. The guidelines focus on
interventions that might be considered appropriate for health
practitioners and employers to implement and they supplement other
guidelines that are available for the clinical management of adult
The guidelines consist of evidence statements with ratings of the
strength of that evidence and associated references, recommendations
with ratings of the strength of evidence behind the recommendation and
good practice points where evidence is lacking.
The guidelines do not intend to provide a list of the several
hundred agents known to cause asthma. New causes of occupational asthma
are reported regularly and such information is available elsewhere.
Neither do they discuss non-occupational asthma except insofar as
reviewing the evidence as to whether pre-existing asthma or a history
of asthma are risk factors for developing occupational asthma.
It is not intended, nor should it be taken to imply, that these
guidelines override existing legal obligations. Duties under the Health
and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at
Work Regulations 1999, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and other
relevant legislation must be given due consideration.
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