Workplace illness: Lung disease potential at coffee roastery

The demand for coffee in California and around the country is increasing as consumption for the beverage continues to soar. Coffee shops are located everywhere, from small towns to metropolitan areas. Coffee beans must be roasted, ground and packaged to provide the products to be sold at all the establishments nationwide. Unfortunately, studies are finding those working in coffee preparation industries may be more susceptible to a certain workplace illness than others.

The nation's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that employees at a coffee roastery in another state experienced wheezing in their chests four times more than others in the same demographic group. Researchers suggested that these workers be monitored for respiratory illnesses that could lead to lung disease. The warnings from the agency pertained to production employees who roast or scoop beans and grind, weigh or package coffee. It was noted that the study did not address individuals who grind coffee beans at home.

Employees reported symptoms of sinus problems and abnormal breathing tests. There were also issues with lung function tests in addition to other respiratory problems. It was noted that this roastery does not add flavors to its coffee. Earlier studies from the agency had shown a link to serious lung disease when flavorings were added. The CDC is continuing to investigate other coffee facilities that have similar operations.

Workers in California have the right to a safe working environment. If an employee has experienced a workplace illness on the job, he or she should contact a knowledgeable workers' compensation lawyer. An attorney will evaluate the situation and work toward ensuring that clients will receive any benefits to which they are entitled.

Source:, "Gasping for Action: Coffee roasters at risk of respiratory illness", Racquel Rutledge, Oct. 5, 2017

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