Dealing with Asthma and Anaphylaxis in the Workplace

Dealing with Asthma and Anaphylaxis in the Workplace

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The prospect of managing a medical emergency like an asthma or anaphylaxis attack in the office can generate a great deal of unease among staff. Given the life-threatening nature of asthma and anaphylaxis, it’s critical to recognise the signs and symptoms and respond promptly to provide the right treatment and help save a life. Successful management of these conditions relies on the concerted effort among the staff to prepare for these events if they ever arise in the workplace.

This is why initiating asthma and anaphylaxis training in the office is essential. In today’s article, let’s talk about the value of enhanced preparedness for in-office anaphylaxis and asthma emergency through training.

The Deal with Workplace Emergencies

Based on a report released by the National Asthma Council Australia, 1 in 4 adults with asthma experience an unprecedented attack in the workplace. However, this remains under-recognised and under-reported in the country. According to Dr Ian Almond, a general practitioner and member of the Australian Asthma Handbook Guidelines Committee, exposure to airborne contaminants or adverse conditions at work is a preventable cause of asthma and asthma symptoms in workers.

These conditions reduce work productivity by more than a third in workplaces across the country. People with asthma or anaphylaxis point out how their condition affects their work lives. Despite taking long-term treatment for their asthma and preventive measures for an anaphylactic reaction, it is inevitable that certain environmental factors trigger their condition.

The impact of asthma and anaphylactic reaction on employees’ emotional well-being at work is evident and often includes tiredness, weakness, and mental strain. Other persons with these conditions describe feelings of stress, embarrassment, helplessness, and guilt. As a result, they could not work to their full potential.

How Training Can Enhance Workplace Preparedness

In keeping true to the vision of creating a safe workplace for everybody in Australia, companies and organisations should act to improve the lives of employees with asthma and anaphylaxis. The failure to prevent exposure to triggers not only affects business processes but also profits. It’s worth noting that people suffer from asthma or allergies when exposed to common agents such as dust mites, cat dander, and pollens.

These agents can also cause allergic problems, such as nasal and sinus allergies, hives, and severe anaphylactic reactions. Other agents include animal proteins, enzymes, flour, natural rubber latex, and certain reactive chemicals, which can be found everywhere, including in workplaces. This is why workplace training is crucial.

Identify triggers

There are many different triggers for asthma attacks and anaphylactic reactions. While people who experience these attacks are well-aware of their trigger points, they may not always be able to avoid them. In asthma and anaphylaxis training, participants learn to identify common triggers.

For asthma:
While the exact cause of asthma is unknown, genetics, pollution and hygiene standards have been suggested as major causes. However, there’s not enough evidence to know if they do cause asthma.

People with asthma have sensitive airways (often swollen or inflamed) and become narrow or clogged with sticky mucus in response to certain triggers, such as:

– Infections (colds, flu, etc.)
– Allergies to dust mites, animal fur or feathers, pollen, etc.
– Smoke, fumes, pollution
– Medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers
– Sudden changes in weather (temperature, cold air, wind, thunderstorms, heat and humidity)
– Damp or mould
– Exercise

In some cases, people exposed to some substances at work experience asthma attacks otherwise known as occupational asthma. The most common causes include:

– Isocyanates or chemicals found in spray paint
– Flour/grain dust
– Colophony or the substance found in solder fumes
– Latex
– Wood dust
– Animals

People who have a higher risk of being exposed to these triggers include paint sprayers, bakers, pastry makers, chemical workers, welders, timber workers, food processing workers, nurses, and animal handlers.

For anaphylaxis:
Not everyone with allergies experiences severe reactions. But some people develop severe allergies when their immune systems overreact to allergens like:

– Foods
– Dander from pets
– Dust mites
– Insect bites
– Latex
– Medications
– Mould

In children, the most common cause of anaphylaxis is an allergy to foods, such as:

– Eggs
– Milk
– Peanuts
– Seafood
– Tree nuts
– Wheat

Adults develop severe reactions when they are exposed to the following allergens:

– Foods
– Medications (such as aspirin, penicillin, and other antibiotics)
– Venom from insect bites

Administer First Aid

People having an asthma attack will have difficulty breathing and speaking. They may cough and sneeze. And as they struggle to breathe, they may get very anxious and distressed.

Since there isn’t enough oxygen in their body, their lips, earlobes, and nail beds may turn greyish-blue. As their anxiety grows, people having an asthma attack tend to panic. This may increase the severity of their attack.

That is why it’s crucial for first aiders to help them be calm. In a first aid training course, participants learn how to identify if someone is having an asthma attack and how to administer first aid. They will learn how to help the person take puffs of the reliever inhaler while reassuring them to stay calm.

The same goes for people having an anaphylactic reaction. If they have an epinephrine auto-injector with them, they may struggle administering it as their anxiety grows. First aiders can help the person to remain calm as they administer epinephrine.

CPR might have to be done if the person becomes unconscious and stops breathing. First aiders are trained and certified to perform the necessary CPR on someone experiencing anaphylaxis until medical help arrives.

Workplace Preparedness Saves Lives

Patients experiencing an asthma or anaphylaxis attack can quickly panic, so it’s crucial to identify initial signs and symptoms and administer first aid immediately. Even a short delay can lead to death by means of respiratory or cardiovascular collapse. With medical clinic preparedness, prompt recognition, and rapid treatment, successful management of in-office asthma and anaphylaxis becomes possible.

First aid training is an effective method of medical education where participants can practice emergency management skills in a controlled setting. This prepares workers to respond to asthma and anaphylaxis attacks in the workplace.

Here at the Australian Training Institute, we believe that workplace preparedness can help save lives. With our asthma and anaphylaxis training, workplaces can identify office-specific technical gaps. Their employees get to familiarise procedures at the point of care to help anyone having an asthma or anaphylactic attack.

Give us a call on 07 3269 5005 to book into a course or for more information!

Australian Training Institute‘s campus is located in 7/51 Brighton Rd, Sandgate QLD 4017 and is just a few minutes away from the Deagon, Brighton, Virginia, Clontarf, Brendale, Strathpine and Chermside.

Click on the links below for more information regarding the asthma and anaphylaxis training.

– Asthma and Anaphylaxis (22556VIC & 22578VIC)
CPR w/ Asthma and Anaphylaxis
Childcare First Aid (HLTAID012) – includes asthma and anaphylaxis training