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The Occupational Lung Diseases edition: November 2021


Industrial workers aren’t the only ones at risk for occupational lung diseases. Almost anyone who works outside of the home is at risk for exposure. In fact, the most common setting for occupational asthma is indoor work environments such as schools, hospitals, and office buildings, likely caused by exposures to mold, cleaning chemicals, or construction dust. Although your employer is responsible for administering preventative measures to control the risk of exposure, it is important to know how to recognize hazards in your workplace and take action.


According to the American Lung Association, occupational lung diseases are the primary cause of occupation-associated illness in the U.S. based on frequency, severity, and preventability of the illnesses.


Most Common Occupational Lung Diseases

  • Occupational asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Interstitial or fibrotic lung diseases
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung infections
  • Bronchiolitis obliterans/airway destruction

Dangerous Contaminants in the Workplace

  • Cleaning Chemicals
  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Crystalline Silica
  • Hexavalent Chrome
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Lead

To learn more about regulations, prevention, and employer requirements, check out our fact sheets:


Employer Requirements

Best practices in avoiding exposure to toxic substances is through engineering controls, such as local exhaust or dilution ventilation.

To learn more about PPE and the hierarchy of controls for workplace hazards, check out our fact sheets on Hazard Control and Respiratory Protection:

Actions You Can Take

What to do if you suspect a problem at your workplace:

  • Request a Safety Data Sheet or other work exposure information from your employer
  • Document and report unsafe conditions to your supervisor and Local or Unit President
  • Request a workplace inspection through your Local or Unit Leadership



How can CSEA Help?

Your OSH Specialists can coordinate Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) inspections with assistance from our Industrial Hygienist in your workplace. The general protocol is to use the following:

  1. Occupant Surveys – documents environmental conditions (e.g., experiences, symptoms)
  2. Information Requests – Safety Data Sheets, chemicals used, exposure records
  3. Review of the Historical Context – operations of building, problem area + surrounding areas
  4. Environmental Sampling – past + current testing results (e.g., temperature, humidity, chemicals, contaminants)
  5. Physical Inspection of Workplace – additional testing + inspections of surrounding areas if needed

OSH Specialists can also provide training, technical assistance, labor-management services, and even help establish a safety & health committee in your workplace.

Contact your OSH Specialist here


Workers’ Compensation

What to do if you think you may be entitled to benefits under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board:

Contact Fine, Olin & Anderman, LLP (FOA)
at (855) 693-8179 or visit


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The 2022 Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety & Health will be held April 1, 2022 – April 3, 2022 in Saratoga Springs!

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The Safety Net is published as a monthly publication by the Occupational Safety and Health Department of CSEA, AFSCME, Local 1000, AFL-CIO.