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Glutened On The Job
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I am not sure I am starting this topic in the right place...

Anyway, it's my job: I work for a company that provides services to various factories and plants of all kinds all over the U.S. It is my job to travel to the client locations to provide the services of my company.

Today I have been working at a flour mill. Literally, they mill flour there, like raw grains. Obviously I am exposed to gluten at this mill. I was inside their offices and in our work trailer on the site. In plain view from our trailer is a car that looks like it is coated in flour dust. The whole area smells like dough.

The only symptom I can say I have noticed so far is a sinus headache. My asthma is worse since my arrival at this place as well.

I have had a conversation with my boss about some of the places I feel would be unwise for me to be for the job. But, this is a bad thing when it comes to my job! I cannot just 'randomly' tell them where I can and cannot go or I may as well quit my job.

The main problem with that is that I have no skills that are in demand -other than to continue at this same job. I cannot just quit my job --I have nothing, no savings, no family, absolutely nothing that can be used to support me, other than to continue at this job. Also, it is not as if I can work for another company doing what I do now, as I would still have to go to places that would expose me to gluten in some form --it is the nature of the work to go to such places.

I pretty much know what your responses will be to this, but have at it...

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Have you looked into using a face mask and protective glasses or goggles in high-risk areas?

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I agree, face mask and goggles! Wear as much clothing as possible, eat indoors (or even in your car!), change clothes often, wear a hat or a bandana. Rain shell? that should brush off easy... Good luck!!!

Ooo, how about eating food you dont have to touch, like putting your face in the bag you packed it in or something. Or gloves to eat.

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I am not sure I am starting this topic in the right place...

Anyway, it's my job: I work for a company that provides services to various factories and plants of all kinds all over the U.S. It is my job to travel to the client locations to provide the services of my company.

Today I have been working at a flour mill. Literally, they mill flour there, like raw grains. Obviously I am exposed to gluten at this mill. I was inside their offices and in our work trailer on the site. In plain view from our trailer is a car that looks like it is coated in flour dust. The whole area smells like dough.

The only symptom I can say I have noticed so far is a sinus headache. My asthma is worse since my arrival at this place as well.

I have had a conversation with my boss about some of the places I feel would be unwise for me to be for the job. But, this is a bad thing when it comes to my job! I cannot just 'randomly' tell them where I can and cannot go or I may as well quit my job.

The main problem with that is that I have no skills that are in demand -other than to continue at this same job. I cannot just quit my job --I have nothing, no savings, no family, absolutely nothing that can be used to support me, other than to continue at this job. Also, it is not as if I can work for another company doing what I do now, as I would still have to go to places that would expose me to gluten in some form --it is the nature of the work to go to such places.

I pretty much know what your responses will be to this, but have at it...

Unless you are the only one in your company that does your job, and unless you have not been formally diagnosed, I would suggest talking to HR or legal in your company about how the ADA law applies in your case. And not from a "I'm going to sue you" perspective, but from a "reasonable allowances required by law", and work WITH them in figuring out a solution. Perhaps you can visit all the other plants that do things other than mill flour (it sounds like there are others!), perhaps you can adjust the hours when you visit mills or the exact location to better remove yourself from flour, or perhaps the precautions mentioned above are sufficient. But you may fall under the ADA (americans with disabilities) law - also assuming you are in the US. :)

Good luck!

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Well, I'm big on employee rights. But I have to say, with the explicit info you related about your situation, I really like the facemask and goggles idea. If you approach it correctly and with a jovial attitude on the job, it could actually become your little trademark. A long time ago I had a job as a liaison for a real estate developer and had to make weekly visits to a construction site. Once the construction guys got to know me, they put daisy decals on my hard hat. It wound up working in my favor. If you like your job, it sounds like you could still make it work with the precautions everyone suggested. Certainly sounds like it's worth a try.

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I can't get the forum to 'multiquote', but anyway, here are some answers to tarnalberry:

I was diagnosed with celiac disease by a gastroenterologist after endoscopy and colonoscopy, and blood test.

I do live in the US, so I will think about your advice regarding the ADA.

I have asthma and that means that I have trouble breathing through a respirator. I do not know if a simple dust mask would be sufficient, especially at a flour mill. (there was flour in the air there)

Fortunately I do not usually have to eat meals at job sites where I work.

Symptoms that I noticed at the second session at the flour mill are:

mild abdominal cramps, and a worsening of my asthma (which I do not know if aggravated asthma symptoms are to be attributed to celiac disease or not...).

Other than that I do not believe that I have experienced other symptoms from this exposure to flour. I worked at that location on Wednesday from 2pm until 4pm and on Thursday from 7am until 11am. It has now been over 24 hours since the Wednesday session. I was in and out of their offices and the room we did part of our job in had chairs in it that were covered in flour dust, and the workers were coming in from the processing plant with flour dust on their clothing.

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My asthma would be worse anywhere dusty like that, gluten or not! N95 masks are very easy to breathe through and used to be enough for my animal allergies when I had to visit a vivarium where I worked. Breathing 5% of the smallest particles is better than breathing 100%, especially if you're finding that you're not getting too many symptoms.

You can usually get N95 masks at hardware stores. Be sure you're getting a particulate mask designed to keep stuff out rather than a surgical mask designed to filter your exhalation. An N99 or N100 with a seal and exhalation valve would be better but you'd have to see whether you are comfortable in it. I'd be inclined to bring a change of clothing and change and rinse off any exposed skin before leaving the site so I didn't get a bunch of flour in my car. Investing in a set of coveralls could work too, if it's appropriate.

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Yes, I think with your asthma, even if you didn't have celiac, the dust is a worry and a mask would really help that. Breathing in lots of flour in the air like that isn't going to be good for anyone.

I like kwylee's suggestion to make it your trademark. You're not being any less serious about your needs, but joking with your colleagues will help you feel less awkward. Good luck.

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My asthma would be worse anywhere dusty like that, gluten or not! N95 masks are very easy to breathe through and used to be enough for my animal allergies when I had to visit a vivarium where I worked. Breathing 5% of the smallest particles is better than breathing 100%, especially if you're finding that you're not getting too many symptoms.

You can usually get N95 masks at hardware stores. Be sure you're getting a particulate mask designed to keep stuff out rather than a surgical mask designed to filter your exhalation. An N99 or N100 with a seal and exhalation valve would be better but you'd have to see whether you are comfortable in it. I'd be inclined to bring a change of clothing and change and rinse off any exposed skin before leaving the site so I didn't get a bunch of flour in my car. Investing in a set of coveralls could work too, if it's appropriate.

Okay, I will try using a dust mask the next time I find myself at a flour mill. I do know what you are talking about. One of the things our company does is Qualitative Fit Tests for respirator fit, so I know what N95 masks are and what to look for. (fyi: we do not sell or supply dust masks or respirators, so I am on my own to purchase such items.)

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Okay, I will try using a dust mask the next time I find myself at a flour mill. I do know what you are talking about. One of the things our company does is Qualitative Fit Tests for respirator fit, so I know what N95 masks are and what to look for. (fyi: we do not sell or supply dust masks or respirators, so I am on my own to purchase such items.)

I hope it helps! A well-fitted N95 mask makes a huge difference for my asthma in a dusty environment even if it's not gluten dust. They're not too expensive to use occasionally and I consider it money well spent compared to being miserable with asthma.

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