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Into ploughshares: forging effective surveillance for work-related lung disease
  1. Carl J Reynolds1,
  2. Paul Blanc2
  1. 1 National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Division Occupational Environmental Medicine, UCSF, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Carl J Reynolds, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK; carl.reynolds{at}

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Surveillance of Work-related and Occupational Respiratory Disease (SWORD) programme, the voluntary scheme for surveillance originally established at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London in January 1989. The SWORD surveillance programme has enjoyed ongoing support from the British Thoracic Society, the Society of Occupational Medicine and the UK governmental Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Currently, SWORD is hosted by the University of Manchester. At its inception, the stated objectives of the SWORD scheme were to monitor the frequency of work-related respiratory disease, promote early recognition and control, provide feedback to participating reporters and undertake collaborative investigations.1 Thus, although technically a passive rather than a mandated reporting scheme, from the start, SWORD was not intended merely to be a dead-end receiver of reports.

In its first year alone, 2101 cases were reported through SWORD by 354 chest and 361 occupational physicians covering a wide mix of cases: asthma (26%); mesothelioma (16%); pneumoconiosis (15%); benign pleural disease (11%) and allergic alveolitis (6%).1 Moreover, initial uptake was good, with 83% of respiratory physicians …

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  • Contributors CJR and PB contributed jointly to this effort.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.