CARPENTERS and paint sprayers head a list of employees most likely to suffer from asthma attacks brought on by exposure to chemicals at work.
Guidelines issued to medical staff by health charity the British Occupational Health Research Foundation highlight occupations that could have a major effect on causes of asthma attacks.
It cites workers exposed to wood dust, paint and welding fumes as those most likely to suffer from asthma caused or exacerbated by exposure at work.
According to Health and Safety Executive figures, occupational exposure lies at the root of the problem for at least one in 10 adult sufferers.
The BOHRF claims early identification of the cause is crucial when prescribing treatment and preventing long-term damage to lungs, and could help slash treatment costs currently estimated at more than £1 billion during the next 10 years.
In a list of recommendations it called for health practitioners to provide workers at risk with annual health checks and for these to be more frequent in the first two years of exposure.
Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health and Safety Commission, said: 'Individuals, companies and professional bodies can all play their part in reducing cases of occupational asthma and days lost.
'These guidelines will help identify the disease at an earlier stage, enabling treatment to be given more quickly.'