If you or a member of your family is suffering from occupational asthma due to the negligence of your employer or another party, it is possible that our specialist personal injury lawyers could help you to claim compensation. Contact us today on 0800 032 8511 for claim advice, or by completing a claim enquiry form.
What is Occupational Asthma?
Causes of Work Related Asthma
Prevention of Occupational Asthma
Occupational Asthma Compensation
Successful Claims for Occupational Asthma
Help With Your Claim
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the airways. It can develop following exposure to an irritant which causes the airways to react and constrict and leads to breathing difficulties. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Around 10 percent of asthma cases in adult sufferers can be attributed to working conditions.
Occupational asthma is caused by exposure to irritants in the workplace. This can be an aggravation of pre-existing or underlying asthma resulting in irritant asthma where the irritant causes an immediate reaction.
Repeated exposure to a substance can make the sufferer much more sensitive and cause attacks
There are many substances which can cause occupational asthma, including solder fumes (colophony), latex, enzymes, flour dust, wood dust, isocyanates, chlorine, grain, resins, welding fumes, smoke and animals.
If inhaled on a regular basis, these irritants can cause a person to become hypersensitive. All employers are required by law to carry out a risk assessment and take suitable precautions to ensure that their staff are protected. Working practices should be made as risk-free as possible and any appropriate protective clothing and equipment should be provided.
Occupational asthma can become chronic (i.e. it continues even after exposure to the irritant has stopped) if it is left untreated for a long enough period. You should seek immediate medical advice if you believe that you have been affected.
Certain occupations carry with them a greater risk of occupational asthma, including:
Employers can take certain precautions to reduce the risk of employees developing occupational asthma. For example:
Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from exposure to health hazards. There are regulations in place which employers have to comply with known as the COSHH, or Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. If your employer fails to take sufficient precautions to prevent harm to you and you develop occupational asthma, you may be entitled to make an injury claim for compensation.
In every case, medical evidence will be required. Detailed expert evidence is often also required in disease cases to show that the condition suffered by a claimant was caused by exposure to a particular substance.
In any personal injury claim it is necessary to show that the person you are making a claim against owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty of care (were negligent), and that the injury you sustained was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of that negligence. It is therefore important to seek the advice of a specialist lawyer, who can help you to pursue your claim effectively.
There are two elements to a compensation award. The first, called general damages, is for the pain and suffering you may have gone through and any loss of amenity (perhaps an inability to wash your car, look after your garden, walk the dog). The award for loss of amenity can be for a short period or for ever if that is what the medical evidence supports.
Whereas the first element of compensation cannot make you better and can only really apologise, the second element of a compensation award, for your losses and expenses, is known as special damages and aims to put you back in a position financially as if the occupational asthma had never developed. It is important to keep receipts for any expenditure you have related to your condition so that these can be reclaimed.
In serious cases, where a person may no longer be able to continue their employment, this can be taken into account. Costs for care, equipment, transport and housing modifications can also be factored into the calculations. If you are still able to work but not in the same role as before an extra amount may be awarded for loss of ‘congenial employment’, particularly if you held a public service role such as a doctor or police officer. A court can also make a financial award to recognise that your prospects on the open labour market may be limited.
Our lawyers have recovered compensation for many people affected by occupational asthma and other industrial diseases. Visit our personal injury news and success stories sections, or see details below, for further details:
There were lots of airborne fibres from the cutting of materials and also smoke, both from inmates’ cigarettes and the cutting of plastic straps. There was little ventilation, no extraction on the machines and a problem with birds and their droppings which meant that the windows were sealed. She was also exposed to mould on the materials which they used. Although paper masks were provided, our client could not wear them as she needed to speak to the inmates.
She suffered several attacks and eventually had to be retired from her job on grounds of ill health. Our client’s home life and leisure activities were also affected as she can no longer walk for any distance or do anything of a physical nature due to her symptoms.
A claim was made against her former employer, who caused the occupational asthma by failing to protect our client’s health and safety through providing a suitable work environment. Her employers denied liability and it was necessary to issue court proceedings. A settlement was reached shortly before the case proceeded to trial.
She received a settlement of over £135,000 compensation in respect of her condition and the related financial losses and personal costs she incurred. The settlement was for a gross sum of £140,000 from which a deduction was made from the benefits which she had received.
The Legal Line lawyers are specialists in all areas of personal injury and industrial disease and can therefore provide expert claim advice, guidance and assistance. If you believe that you have developed asthma as a result of exposure to irritants in your workplace, they can assist you in making a compensation claim in respect of the current and future effects that this has on your life and work.
It may also be possible to make a posthumous claim in respect of a relative that has died due to occupational asthma.