Occupational asthma compensation claims

Occupational asthma legal advice

24.02.2006

It is estimated that over 2 million UK workers in a wide range of industries and occupations are potentially exposed to agents known to be associated with the development of occupational asthma. Occupational factors have been associated with up to 15% of asthma cases in the UK. (Hence the name, occupational asthma.)

Workers in hundreds of occupations are exposed to substances in the air that may cause irritation in susceptible people. Many of these substances are very common and not ordinarily considered hazardous. Workers most likely to develop occupational asthma are those with a personal or family history of allergies or asthma and frequent exposure to highly sensitizing substances. However occupational asthma can also develop when there are no known allergies.

What is occupational asthma

Occupational asthma is a chest disease in which the airways overreact to dusts, vapours, gases, or fumes that exist in the workplace. It is usually reversible. However permanent lung damage can occur if exposure to the substance that causes the disease continues over a prolonged period. When irritants are inhaled the following history is commonplace:

  • Airway inflammation begins
  • Muscles in the airways tighten
  • The airway tissue swells
  • Too much mucus is produced

Workers may be exposed to a wide variety of airborne contaminants, such as dust, welding fumes, gases, sandblasting dust, solvent vapours flour, cleaning fluids and mists. Inhaling such air can irritate the respiratory system and cause sneezing, coughs, chest tightness or difficulty in breathing. Prolonged exposure over months or years can lead to chronic long-term lung disease including chronic bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema. Studies have show that in most cases occupational asthma develops in 6-12 months, but may occur within weeks or be delayed as long as 20 + years.

If you or a loved one has suffered from respiratory problems - such as occupational asthma or silicosis - caused by conditions at work, our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.