Hesperian Health Guides

Preventing TB at work

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 31: TB (tuberculosis) > Preventing TB at work

several women in a room with 8 beds and no windows.
TB can spread rapidly when people live in crowded dormitories with poor ventilation.

A factory that has good ventilation can help prevent TB from spreading. And if factory workers live in dormitories, it is just as important that those buildings have good ventilation systems too.

Workers who breathe in a lot of dust are more likely to get TB. Dust irritates the lungs and makes them less able to resist TB infection. Smoking tobacco also irritates and weakens the lungs.

People who are sick or do not get enough food or rest are also more likely to get TB because their bodies are already weak. This is especially true for people with HIV, who should be tested for TB even if they have no signs. People with TB should also consider getting an HIV test.

When workers in a factory have TB, other people in the community usually have TB also. If anyone in your factory has signs of TB, or if people in your family and community have TB, unions, local organizations, health promoters, and clinics can work together to create a testing, treatment, and prevention program. Educating everyone in the factory, both workers and management, to know the signs of TB and where to get medicines and support is important for prevention.

Support for people with TB

The factory is healthier for all when every worker with TB gets medicine. In some places, the government health agency will send health workers to a factory to talk with workers, begin testing, and give TB medicine to each worker with TB until she is cured. Social service agencies often help people with TB by offering free transportation to get health care, food support, and compensation for loss of pay due to illness. Make sure the factory TB program is linked to TB programs in the community, and that all workers know about the services that are available.