Asthma is a common condition which causes your airways to narrow, making it difficult for you to breathe. It may commonly be triggered by colds and flu viruses, cigarette smoke, dust, pollen or animal hairs. In many cases, asthma is a hereditary condition. However, it can also develop from environmental factors in later life, and this is most commonly a reaction to substances inhaled in the workplace.
Environmental asthma symptoms can develop immediately after exposure to a substance at work, making it very clear what the cause was. In some cases, however, symptoms may not appear until several hours later, possibly at night. This can sometimes make any link with workplace activities unclear. If you believe your asthma may have been caused by your working environment, or even if you just want to find out what a legal expert thinks, don’t hesitate to speak to one of our experienced compensation claims advisors today on 01204 895610 or chat with us now to arrange a call back. Alternatively, fill in one of our claims forms or use our Compensation Calculator, and we’ll call you back at a time that suits you.
Who Is Likely To Suffer From Workplace Asthma?
The most commonly diagnosed with occupational asthma are bakers and vehicle paint sprayers, whose condition is often caused by isocyanates.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that the number of occupational asthma cases has gone down since 2000. But there are still many jobs which pose great risks to their workers, particularly when health and safety best practice is neglected.
What Causes Occupational Asthma?
There are a variety of known occupational asthma causes, many of which are due to you being exposed to dangerous substances. Your employer however, has a legal responsibility to minimise the risk of this exposure. In instances where it is not possible to prevent these hazardous substances from becoming airborne, the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used to prevent inhalation. These can include respirators, air filtration systems as well as a variety of other working techniques.
There are many substances that can cause asthma, including many which are unique to a specific industry.
These substances include:
- Alpha amylases
- Castor bean dust
- Chloroplatinates and other halogenoplatinates
- Chromium (VI) compounds
- Cobalt (metal and compounds)
- Cockroach material
- Coffee bean dust
- Cow epithelium/urine
- Crustacean proteins
- Diazonium salts
- Egg proteins
- Fish proteins
- Flour dust
- Some hardwood dusts
- Laboratory animal excreta/secreta
- Maleic anhydride
- Methyltetrahydrophthalic anhydride
- Nickel sulphate
- Phthalic anhydride
- Some reactive dyes
- Rosin-based solder flux fume
- Some softwood dusts
- Soybean dust
- Storage mites
- Tetrachlorophthalic anhydride
- Trimellitic anhydride
Symptoms of Workplace Asthma
If you suffer from asthma at work, the symptoms will be obvious. Severe shortness of breath is the most common symptom and this can prevent you from completing even the simplest tasks. Other symptoms can also include wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest, and some may experience rhinitis (sneezing/runny nose) and conjunctivitis (itchy and inflamed red eyes). The symptoms experienced will range in severity; some victims will find the symptoms to be manageable with drug therapy; whilst others will find the condition debilitating, where even the smallest amount of activity will render them unable to do anything further.
For many occupational asthma sufferers, this is frustrating and difficult. In severe cases some victims can feel almost helpless. So if you feel that you might be affected by workplace asthma, you are well within your rights to begin making an asthma compensation claim. Simply call 01204 521133 to find out more.
Occupational Asthma Diagnosis
Diagnosing occupational asthma is not always straightforward, as it presents with symptoms that are also found in lung diseases, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or even heart disease. If your GP suspects asthma, they will examine a number of areas.
These can include:
- Discussing medical and work history, exploring your role and the equipment provided.
- Any recent symptoms affecting your chest or breathing
- Whether symptoms are aggravated by exertion
- Family history of asthma or allergies
- Lung function tests with a peak flow meter or spirometer
- Opening airways with drugs for further examination
Where asthma is diagnosed, your GP will be able to help you to determine the cause. If ‘asthma attacks’ (cases where your symptoms flare up) are experienced primarily at work, then steps need to be taken to reduce your exposure to harmful causes. You will be asked in for regular checkups and you will likely be given drug therapy to help prevent, or alleviate symptoms.
Asthma Compensation Claims
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, require employers to prevent or to control exposures to hazardous substances to protect employees’ health. The Health and Safety Executive also provides an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) for the control of substances that can cause occupational asthma.
Employers are also bound to a variety of other legislative pieces that clearly define their legal duty of care to their employees. Generally speaking, it is their responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for staff. Where this is not possible Personal Protective Equipment and training must be issued to reduce these risks as much as is practically possible. Where such care is not provided, the employer is being negligent in their duties.
These legal obligations are very clear, so if you fall victim to asthma at work as a result of their negligence, they are liable to pay compensation to make amends. Occupational asthma is frustrating at the least, and debilitating in severe cases. This will have negative consequences for your day-to-day life, as well as for your performance at work. For these reasons, it is imperative that you begin a claim for occupational asthma compensation as soon as you feel that you might be affected.
You should speak with a specialist industrial disease solicitor so that they can begin compiling a case. If you instruct Asons solicitors to handle your claim, we will collate all of the required evidence and medical proof to substantiate your claim whilst providing expert support and advice throughout the process; saving you from all the hard work.
We’ve dealt with a variety of occupational asthma claims in the past and so we understand how difficult it can be for sufferers to take this important and decisive step.
When Can I Make An Occupational Asthma Compensation Claim?
Your employer is obliged to take care of your health and safety while you are at work. If they fail to do this, and you suffer because of it, you may be entitled to make a claim for industrial disease compensation.
The Control Of Substances Hazardous To Health Regulations (COSHH) were introduced to make sure that your employer protects your health while you are at work. In the case of asthma-causing substances, this means providing you with the correct, and fully functioning, protective equipment you need to keep you safe from exposure. If they haven’t done this, you should explore the possibility of making a claim.
What do I Need to Prove?
To make a claim for compensation, you’ll have to prove that your illness is the result of your employer’s negligent behaviour towards your health and safety. So, you’ll need to show that you were either not provided with the correct safety equipment to begin with; or the equipment you were provided with was faulty; or you were not given the correct training on how to use it – and that this caused your occupational asthma.
Your employer also has the responsibility of making sure that your working environment is ventilated well, and that you receive regular health checks. Failing to provide these things is a case of them failing to meet their legal duty of care to you.
However, in order to prove this you’ll probably need the help of an experienced industrial disease solicitor, like those we have working here at Asons. We’ll help you look at your working life to determine if you there’s a case against your employer. If there is, we’ll do all we can to help you get the compensation you are entitled to. You won’t have to lift a finger, and you’ll be kept up to date every step of the way – that’s a promise.
No Win No Fee & Asthma At Work Time Limits…
Many people want to make a claim for compensation, but are worried about how much it might cost. This is not something you need to think about with Asons, as we use a ‘no win no fee’ system. One of our expert industrial disease solicitors will assess your case and advise you on how to proceed. If we cannot take your case on ‘no win, no fee’, you will be informed, advised of the likely cost of the case and any other options available to you, before any further action is taken.
But, you must be quick! Claims for compensation usually have a three-year time limit placed on them. There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general, it’s best if you visit your doctor and start the claims process as soon as possible.
Where else can I find help and advice?
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides plenty of helpful information for both employers and victims of occupational asthma. It provides brochures and printed material for use in the work place as well as guides and checklists for ensuring employee safety. You may also wish to visit Asthma UK.
For free, expert advice on pursuing an occupational asthma claim, speak to us today on 01204 521133, message us on live chat in office hours, or use our Claims Calculator/Request A Callback forms to the right hand side.