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Asthma contracted at work – how common is it?

Unfortunately occupational asthma is a relatively common respiratory disorder in the UK, affecting tens of thousands of workers annually who contract it as a result of short or longer term exposure to hazardous conditions in their places of work.  Occupational asthma compensation claims are also common, as a result

Approximately two million workers in the UK work in environments where their level of exposure to dusts, fumes, vapours or gas might cause them to experience the condition.

To find out whether or not a persons’ asthma was because that work that person will need to keep a record of when the symptoms show  If the symptoms disappear when the person is away from their working environment but return again when or shortly after they return to work the asthma will be classified as occupational.

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2 main types of occupational asthma;

There are two main types of occupational asthma;

  1. hypersensitivity-induced occupation asthma (the type experienced by 90% of those affected) and
  2. irritant-induced asthma, also known as Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS).

The symptoms include a feeling tightness of the chest, experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing and a general sense of respiratory discomfort and are caused by an inflammation of the air passages which cause them to narrow and produce an excess of mucus.

Common causes of occupational asthma

Higher than average incidences of workers contracting occupation asthma occur in bakery work, spray painting, metalwork, agricultural and forestry, textiles, warehouse working, catering, dentistry, laboratory work and painting and decorating.

Particularly to blame for causing occupational asthma are a group of chemicals called isocyanates which are found in spray paints, the gases and fumes prevalent in foundries and also in foam moulding processes.   If the exposure is particularly high, onset of the symptoms can occur within a year, however low level exposure might result in the onset being considerably delayed.  The level of exposure usually also determines whether or not the condition will prove to be reversible, which it is in the majority of cases, or whether permanent damage to the lungs will occur.

I’m showing symptoms occupational asthma – what should I do?

Any worker experiencing the symptoms described above would be strongly advised to see their doctor and to provide the doctor with a comprehensive description of their working environment and materials they work with.

If the doctor decides that the asthma is likely to have been caused in the workplace, the patient should pass this information on to his employer who must remove him or her from the source of the respiratory sensitiser causing the symptoms.

What responsibilities do employers have to their employees?

Employers have, as part of their duty of care to their employees’ a specific requirement to protect their workforce from exposure to substances that might cause occupational asthma or indeed any other injury.

If an employer has been negligent is discharging that duty of care and as a result of that negligence an employee, through not fault of their own contracts occupational asthma, a claim for compensation is likely to succeed. And for that you are going to need a specialist workplace injury solicitor.

Looking for a specialist in workplace compensation? Call our Asthma at Work Claims experts today

Our personal injury team, including a member of the Law Society’s personal injury panel have extensive experience in bringing work injury compensation claims. We can help recover the full and fair amount of personal injury damages you deserve.

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