Breathe Freely New Zealand aims to prevent dust-related occupational lung disease, such as silicosis, in workers, through education & awareness of safe work practices to control exposures. It is a program of the New Zealand Occupational Hygiene Society (NZOHS), the organisation representing occupational hygiene professionals committed to protecting worker health.
Breathe Freely New Zealand is an adaption of the highly successful UK Breathe Freely initiative developed by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS). The UK Breathe Freely is aimed at reducing occupational lung disease in the UK which causes significant debilitating ill-health and an estimated 13,000 deaths per year. The BOHS initiative was launched in 2015 addressing the construction sector, followed by the launch of the manufacturing section in 2017. In 2020, the BOHS and AIOH generously allowed the NZOHS to develop the Breathe Freely New Zealand program, to meet industry needs. It is about raising awareness both of the problem and how to do something about it. We can protect workers’ health and prevent most of these diseases and deaths. It is not just “the right thing to do”, it is good for business as well.
What is occupational hygiene?
Occupational hygiene is the preventative side of occupational health: recognising health hazards in the workplace, understanding the real risks these pose to workers’ health, and then controlling their exposures to them. It helps employers and employees understand the health risks, and then improve working conditions and working practices through suitable, inexpensive, effective and practical exposure control measures.