Journal List > Korean J Occup Environ Med > v.21(1) > 1125701

Korean J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Mar;21(1):53-62. Korean.
Published online Jan 29, 2019.
Copyright © 2009 The Korean Society of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Occupational Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Cases Evaluated by Workers' Compensation in Korea
Hwa Pyung Lee, Dong Hee Koh and Eui Cheol Lee
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Gumi CHA Medical Center, College of Medicine, CHA University, Korea.
Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA), Korea.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Inha University Hospital, Korea.


To analyse the characteristics of occupational COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) cases that were evaluated by the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute (OSHRI) of the Korea Occupational Safety & Health Agency (KOSHA).


Using the OSHRI database from KOSHA, we collected 13 cases of occupational COPD that had been evaluated from 1998 to 2007.


Four cases had been evaluated as occupational COPD: 1) a nonsmoking road sweeper exposed to automobile exhaust gases and trash dust; 2) an oxygen welding worker exposed to cadmium fumes; 3) a cotton mill air conditioner cleaning worker exposed to cotton dust; and 4) a foundry grinding worker exposed to dust, gases, vapors and fumes. Nine cases had been evaluated as non-occupational COPD: 1) 4 cases in which smoking was determined to be the main cause rather than occupational exposure; 2) 1 case that was evaluated as another respiratory disease (severe tuberculosis sequelae); 3) 1 case that had been misdiagnosed as COPD; 4) 2 cases in which the exposure levels in the workplace environments were too low; and 5) 1 case that had developed before the employment. Among these 13 cases, a shipyard grinding worker had been evaluated in 2006 as having had a low occupational hazard, but a similar case (a foundry grinding worker) was evaluated as having had a high hazard in 2007.


Proper evaluation of occupational COPD demands an accurate diagnosis of COPD itself and also the exclusion of other respiratory diseases that have similar symptoms; an investigation of the relevant occupatioonal hazards and the amount of the exposure; and a consideration of smoking history. The evaluation should also take into account any substantial loss of life due to occupational hazards as well as any disease-free periods.

Keywords: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Occupational exposure; Workers' compensation; Dust