In the factory

This information is for people that work in factories, including those that produce textiles, electronics, metals, bricks, ceramics and plastics. It gives information on things in the workplace that could damage the lungs and advice on how to protect them.

What are the hazards?

These are some of the hazards you may come into contact with at work.

  • Isocyanates

    Found in products including paints, coatings, foams, glues and flooring.

  • Metal fumes

    A mixture of gases, including nitrous oxide (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO22), carbon monoxide (CO), shielding gas (e.g. argon, helium) and ozone (O3) and very fine particles.

  • Silica dust

    Created when working on materials that have silica in them (for example concrete, mortar and sandstone).

  • Dyes

    Certain ingredients in dyes.

  • Metalworking fluids

    Neat oils or water-based fluids used for lubrication and cooling when working with metals. They are sometimes called suds, coolants, slurry or soap.

  • Asbestos

    A group of tiny minerals that was used a lot in building work in the past. When material containing asbestos is moved or damaged, a dust containing fibres of asbestos can go into the air and be breathed in.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung conditions like COPD and lung cancer

If you smoke, you will be at a much higher risk of developing a lung condition.


How can your health be affected?

How to protect yourself

Your employer has a responsibility to ensure the work environment is appropriately ventilated and that you are provided with protective clothing and appropriate safety advice.

Here are four easy things you can do to ensure you're doing everything you can to protect your lung health at work.

  • Assess Risk

    Do risk assessments to make sure you are doing jobs safely and efficiently.

  • Wear the correct mask

    A mask can stop you developing a work-related lung condition caused by inhaling hazardous substances.

    Different masks are available in a range of sizes and designs, so if you are having trouble using a mask supplied by your employer you should discuss the options for using a different kind of mask.

  • When cleaning

    Check ingredients in cleaning products and avoid those that will put you at risk.

    Use wipes not sprays so that you are putting less chemicals into the air for you to breathe in.

    Follow label instructions about the safe use of chemicals.

  • Health check-ups

    Get your health regularly checked – either through a health scheme at your workplace, or by regularly seeing a healthcare professional.

More information