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What is the best approach?
With the reduction in the disease burden from the pneumoconioses in recent years, especially in developed countries, occupational asthma has emerged as the occupational lung disease of greatest importance. It is usually the most common respiratory condition reported in occupational disease surveillance programmes and makes a substantial contribution to the burden of asthma in the community, with an estimated population attributable risk of 15% and estimated annual cost to the USA of $US1.6 billion.1 Therefore, the introduction of prevention strategies to reduce the impact of occupational asthma, should be strongly supported.
The editorial by Snashall in this issue2 describes the latest proposal by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) to reduce the incidence of occupational asthma in the United Kingdom.3 This article acknowledges the limited success of past HSC prevention programmes. The proposed Strategy has five components corresponding to the key programmes in Securing health together, the HSC’s 10 year occupational health strategy, released in 2000. These components include the introduction of an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP), more targeted enforcement, better management systems, improved education, and more research. The primary stated aim of the new strategy is to reduce the incidence of occupational asthma, but in fact many of the proposed actions are appropriately aimed at other aspects of disease burden reduction, such as early …