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 asthma.

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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