Claiming Compensation for Asthma

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By Oliviah Rix-Taylor

on Friday 28 September 2018

asthma diagnosis

Occupational Asthma Workers Compensation

People who have contracted asthma from their working environment are entitled to compensation. The condition is permanent and will have an effect on daily life which can grow in severity if not managed properly. Occupational asthma is prevalent across the manufacturing industry in the UK and is often left undiagnosed, with sufferers coping alone without medical or financial help.

Occupational Asthma Compensation Claims

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition which causes a narrowing of the airways of your lungs. People with asthma have extra trouble breathing, and when the asthma is exacerbated (typically because of changes in the environment) it can lead to a period where it is very difficult to breath – referred to as an asthma attack.

There is no cure for asthma – at best it can be managed by avoiding the pollutants such as pollen or dust that can trigger attacks, and through various medication.

While asthma can be passed on as a genetic disease, it is also contracted though persistent exposure to an environment where the airwaves are constantly under pressure from airborne contaminants. It is particularly prevalent in the manufacturing industry, where people from bakers to vehicle paint technicians are exposed on a daily basis to less-than-clean air.

Asthma vs. Lung Disease

It can difficult to get a medical diagnosis for occupational asthma due to the symptoms being very similar to those of many lung diseases:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest tightness

  • Coughing

  • Wheezing

Should you fulfil the occupational asthma diagnosis criteria, it is important to keep copies of all medical diagnosis to successfully claim for work related asthma compensation.

Causes of Occupational Asthma

There are two types of occupational asthma:

  • Allergic asthma – this is the main form of occupational asthma in the UK. It does not present itself immediately but builds over time before developing into the condition. Prolonged exposure to an airborne contaminant often leads to an allergy that presents as asthma.

  • Irritant-induced asthma – a rarer form of the condition, this occurs almost immediately, presenting itself a few hours after high exposure to fumes or harmful gasses.

The highest number of occupational (allergic) asthma cases in the UK are caused by flour and grain, and isocyanates.

In the baking industry, flour and grain are a common airborne pollutant that can pervade an area and remain in the air for hours. With a constant heavy production level, it is not unusual to have an environment polluted by flour throughout the working day – leading to constant daily exposure.

Isocyanates are found in a variety of products prevalent in the construction sector. These include glues, flooring, polyurethane paints, many coatings and various foams. Exposure to isocyanates for those involved in construction, manufacturing and maintenance is often extremely high and is one of the main causes of occupational asthma.

Other substances which are known to cause asthma in the workplace include:

  • Solder

  • Steel welding

  • Cutting oils

  • Coolants

  • Wood dust and sawdust

  • Latex

  • Amylase and enzymes

  • Industrial and home-based cleaning solutions

  • Hardening agents

Asthma and Prevention in the Workplace | occupational asthma diagnosis criteria 

Your employer has a duty of care to you in the working environment. They must ensure your safety, carry out risk assessments and put into place any necessary measures to keep you from harm – this is all part of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH) regulations go further – requiring companies to follow a process of prevention, action and review to protect employees from dangerous chemicals and allergens – including isocyanates.

Under these regulations, employers must:

  • Do what they can to minimise the level of substances which can cause, or potentially cause asthma. Controls must be in place regarding the release and the spread of allergens and irritant chemicals.
  • Ensure that the work environment has suitable ventilation.
  • Install adequate air filtration systems throughout the working environment and ensure that these systems are regularly maintained.
  • Make sure there are adequate cleaning facilities.
  • Properly train staff on the risks and control of any harmful substances. Plus, regularly update this training and provide regular refreshers.
  • Provide all relevant personal protective equipment (PPE). This can include:
    • Respiratory protective equipment – these should be tested to ensure a good fit and all filters regularly replaced.
    • Eye protection
    • Gloves
    • Overalls
  • Have the correct first aid equipment and assign a trained member of staff to be a primary first aider, able to help should a situation occur.
  • Regularly review all of the above and update any equipment and procedures as necessary.

Failure to comply with any of these regulations would mean that your employer may be liable for any work-related asthma you may be suffering.

Your personal responsibilities

Remember, it is not all down to your employer. If you have been provided with the appropriate training and equipment, it is your responsibility to follow the procedure and safety guidelines that are in place. You should also ensure that any personal protective equipment you have been issued is kept clean and in good working order throughout its use.

Failure to follow procedures that are in place will lead to a lower level of liability for your employer and could invalidate any compensation claim that you might have.

How Much Compensation Can You Expect For Occupational Asthma?

Asthma can vary in severity from person to person. When calculating your claim award, the severity of the asthma is a major component in determining a final payout.

Occupational asthma payouts are typically within the following minimum and maximum limits:

Severity Compensation
Mild asthma, bronchitis, colds and chest problemsUp to £4,110
Relatively mid asthma-like symptoms£8,480 to £15,300
Bronchitis and wheezing affecting work or social life£15,300 to £20,950
Chronic asthma£20,950 to £34,280
Severe and permanent disabling asthma£34,330 to £52,390

Making a Claim

If you have contracted occupational asthma and believe it was the fault of your employer, then Accident Line Direct are here to help you.

We are specialists in occupational asthma compensation claims in the UK and believe that professional legal representation should be available to all. To achieve this, we work on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that there are no charges for you – we make our money by taking a small percentage from any compensation award at the end of the case, and if we don’t win, it costs you nothing.

There are no hidden fees and no confusing small print – we are here to help you from the moment you pick up the phone until your compensation award is paid.

Making a claim for asthma 

It is very important that you have a full medical diagnosis to pursue an occupational asthma claim. You should keep copies of any medial reports to share with us.

Any supporting evidence is also useful. Be sure to note where you believe your employer has failed in their duty of care and keep copies of any documentation that may be of note.

Other than that, all that is required is for you to get into contact with us at Accident Line Direct. You can give us a call or fill in the contact form for one of our advisors to call you back at a time convenient to you.

0808 1454275

Accident Line Direct can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!