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Occupational Asthma Following Exposure To Wood Dust

Mr B was an employee of James Beattie Limited, a large department store in Wolverhampton.

He was employed as a facilities assistant in the maintenance department where his job required him to machine medium density fibreboards, commonly know as MDF. These MDF sheets were fed through a table saw and cut to size.

Mr B was provided with no suitable respiratory protection to safeguard him from the significant quantities of dust which emitted from the machining process. In time the Company reduced its labour force leaving Mr B to work alone and in charge of all the machining of the medium density fibreboards. Working long hours in unprotected conditions with no supervision or training led to Mr B suffering from increasing shortness of breath and coughing. 

Mr B was diagnosed with occupational asthma and allergic rhinitis.

A claim was issued against Mr B's employer in the Birmingham County Court. The case was pursued on the basis that in the course of his work as a facilities assistant Mr B was required to saw MDF sheets with ineffective extraction and in breach of statutory duties which had materially increased the risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis from such work and specifically in breach of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

Judgment was entered in favour of Mr B after the Defendant filed no defence to the case. The claim was successfully settled out of court for a five figure sum.

Satinder Bains, one of our specialist Industrial Disease lawyers in Birmingham who represented Mr B, commented:

"There are many substances found in the woodworking industries that are hazardous to health.  In particular, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) which is a wood composite material which is bonded with synthetic resin. When MDF is machined it will release a mixture of wood dust and free formaldehyde.

"The main health risks of breathing such dust in includes occupational asthma. There is also an additional risk of sino- nasal cancer.  While strict workplace exposure limits exist by which employers are required to control the level of dust  in Mr B’s case such safety measures were not followed.

"The Health & Safety Executive (‘HSE’) have been advising employers about the need to ensure exposure to wood dust is properly maintained.  Mr B's condition was preventable and the compensation he has received goes only some way to repay for the breathlessness and discomfort he suffered for a number of 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.

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