Managing the Risk of Occupational Allergy in the Enzyme Detergent Industry
Enzyme proteins have potential to cause occupational allergy/asthma. Consequently, as users of enzymes in formulated products, detergents manufacturers have implemented a number of control measures to ensure that the hazard does not translate into health effects in the workforce. To that end, trade associations have developed best practice guidelines which emphasize occupational hygiene and medical monitoring as part of an effective risk management strategy. The need for businesses to recognize the utility of this guidance is reinforced by reports where factories which have failed to follow good industrial hygiene practices have given rise to incidences of occupational allergy. In this article, an overview is provided of how the industry guidelines are actually implemented in practice and what experience is to be derived therefrom. Both medical surveillance and air monitoring practices associated with the implementation of industry guidelines at approximately 100 manufacturing facilities are examined. The data show that by using the approaches described for the limitation of exposure, for the provision of good occupational hygiene and for the active monitoring of health, the respiratory allergenic risk associated with enzyme proteins can be successfully managed. This therefore represents an approach that could be recommended to other industries contemplating working with enzymes.