Employers Urged To Protect Employees From Asthma-Inducing Chemicals

Study Shows Exposure To Harsh Chemicals Can Lead To Asthma

23.01.2013

Specialist work place injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have called for employers to provide better protection for employees who come into contact with harsh chemicals found in cleaning products after a study found that a significant number of adults who come into contact with them are suffering from asthma.

A study of more than 7,000 people suggests exposure to bleach and other chemicals are a major factor in one in six cases of adult-onset asthma among British people in their mid-50s.

The study, by Thorax, identified 18 high risk jobs such as domestic helpers, office cleaners and care workers. Farmers, aircraft workers and typesetters also topped the list of potentially dangerous jobs alongside hairdressers and laundry workers.

David Johnston-Keay, a specialist work place injury lawyer who has represented many clients who have come into contact with poisonous substances at work, said: “Occupational asthma is a serious problem, the potential causes of which are often overlooked or poorly understood by employers.

At Irwin Mitchell we see a wide range of people who begin to suffer with symptoms of asthma whilst at work or shortly after. These include metal workers who have been exposed to contaminated metal working fluids and manual workers using chemical products and solvents such as isocyanates, a well known asthma irritant.

Asthma can be a debilitating illness and can have a big impact on people’s lives, but it could be entirely preventable. If employees are better protected from the dangerous chemicals found in many industrial cleaning products used in a broad range of industries, from farming to hairdressing, the risk can be avoided.

We hope the Thorax survey helps to raise awareness of this issue so that employers can provide better protection in future. No one should suffer from adverse health conditions like asthma for simply going to work every day.

Hundreds of occupational agents have been linked to asthma including flour, grain and detergents.  Breathing problems start to occur when fine particles are inhaled into the airways, causing irritation.

A spokesperson for charity Asthma UK has advised anyone who works in the industries highlighted by the study to contact their GP if they begin to suffer breathing problems.

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.