Occupational Asthma Reference

Fukakusa J, Jang B, Ribeiro M, Kudla I, Tarlo SM, Factors influencing respirator use at work in respiratory patients, Occup Med, 2011;61:576-582,

Keywords: prevention, RPE, respirator, Canada

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Susan Tarlo, Toronto Susan Tarlo

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When engineering controls such as ventilation are not sufficient to prevent hazardous exposures in workplaces, respiratory protective devices (RPDs) may be provided to decrease workers’ exposures. Often, workers do not use RPDs consistently when required.

Our goal was to determine important factors associated with RPD usage in workers with respiratory disease exposed to airborne hazards at work.

One hundred and twenty-nine respiratory clinic patients in jobs with self-identified hazardous airborne substances completed a questionnaire and their clinic files were reviewed. Statistical analysis using chi-squared test and binary logistical regression was done to identify associations with RPD usage.

Forty-one per cent reported always wearing RPDs whenever a hazard was present; 33% never wore RPD. Compliance was highest among healthcare workers (72%) and lowest among workers in food and service industries (13 and 22%, respectively), P < 0.01. The compliance of co-workers, conveniently located RPDs, safety training discussing the use of RPDs, fit testing available at the workplace and age were positively associated with compliance (P < 0.05). Experiencing symptoms of shortness of breath and nasal stuffiness were negatively associated with compliance (P < 0.05).

Addressing company factors and workers’ symptoms apparently influencing compliance may optimize RPD usage.

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Workers with shortness of breath less likely to use RPE (35% vs 59%)

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