Poultry Dust – Preventing respiratory disease in poultry farm workers ...

Poultry Dust - Respiratory Disease Prevention. 


Poultry farming is a dusty business, and poultry workers are at higher risk of respiratory disease when compared to other famers. dust Periodically asses the risk from poultry dust.

As part of your emergency preparedness talks, raise the awareness of the importance of protecting from family and staff from poultry dust.  They should know what poultry dust is, how it is activated, what happens when you breathe it, and prevention methods.

Suggestions for Discussions:

What is poultry dust: It is an airborne organic dust including any biological agents arising from work activities on poultry farms. This includes feed, bedding material, bird droppings, feathers, dander, dust mites, moulds and endotoxins.

The activities that generate poultry dust in a barn:

  • Laying down bedding;
  • Populating poultry houses with young birds;
  • Litter/manure removal;
  • Catching poultry (depopulation); and
  • Cleaning poultry houses after depopulation (final clean).

What happens when you breathe it in: Poultry workers often have breathing problems at work such as: coughing, bringing up phlegm, shortness of breath, wheezing; and chest tightness.

Working with poultry dust commonly causes symptoms affecting the:

  • eyes (itching, watering or redness);
  • nose (sneezing, itching, runny or blocked nose);
  • throat discomfort; and/ or
  • flu-like symptoms with headache, fever and muscle aches.

Encourage family and staff to avoid respiratory disease and to visit their doctor for advice and treatment if needed.

Ensure appropriate mask safety equipment is available, that it fits appropriately, and that staff have knowledge of how to use it and when to replace filters etc.

Prevention: It is much better to prevent respiratory disease by using good working practices.

Provide Training In Protect airways

How to check the fit of the RPE before use;

    • How to wear the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for the job (e.g. dust masks; air-fed hoods, visors, helmets etc.);
    • Remind they not to remove the RPE during the work activity; and
    • Discuss how facial hair affects the performance of close-fitting respirators, so faces should be clean shaven for the best performance.

Note if you use RPE which relies on a good face seal to be effective (e.g. disposable dust masks, half and full-face masks), then your respirator must be face-fit tested.