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Workers are entitled to be kept as safe as is possible when in their employment. This includes being protected from situations which could be dangerous to health – from excessive noise,[link to ‘industrial deafness’ page] being assaulted at work, and slipping and trip hazards.
As part of these duties, employers must make sure that their workers aren’t exposed to harmful chemicals or particles in the air. Breathing in such substances can cause lung conditions to develop, or occupational asthma.
It is estimated there are 18,000 new cases reported every year of ‘breathing or lung problems’ that have been caused or made worse by work. If you have developed occupational asthma due to your employer taking inadequate safety measures, you may be able to claim compensation.
What is occupational asthma?
There are two recognised types of occupational asthma:
- Allergic occupational asthma – This refers to the majority of occupational asthma cases, caused by prolonged exposure to large amounts of an allergenic substance in the air. Breathing in these allergens can cause an allergic reaction to develop, in turn, making you ‘hypersensitive’ to future exposure to that substance.
- Irritant-induced asthma – This is caused by breathing in certain chemicals in the form of a gas or vapour. This type of occupational asthma is less common as it results from exposure to concentrated amounts of irritant chemicals such as chlorine or ammonia. It can be developed following a brief period of acute exposure – for example following a large spillage of an irritant chemical.
The symptoms of occupational asthma include:
- Difficulty breathing.
- A feeling of tightness in your chest.
In certain industries, workers are particularly vulnerable to occupational asthma. Some examples are:
- Vehicle painting – due to exposure to isocyanate (a chemical in certain kinds of paint)
- Baking or confectionery industries – due to exposure to flour/grain dust
- Manufacturing operatives
- Soldering or Welding
If you develop occupational asthma or other breathing conditions – as a result of your employer failing to do all that is reasonable to protect your well-being – you may be able to claim compensation.
Truth Legal’s specialist personal injury solicitors can help you recover this compensation. We will work tirelessly to build your case and achieve the positive outcome you deserve. Our firm prides itself on delivering an ethical, honest, and efficient service.
Claim compensation for occupational asthma with Truth Legal
Claims for industrial diseases such as occupational asthma require specialist handling. It is important you are being advised and represented by solicitors who are experienced in this area of law. Truth Legal’s friendly team of solicitors have the expertise required to handle these often-complicated cases, and can secure you the right amount of compensation.
We are based in Harrogate with presences in York, Manchester, and London. We would like to sit down with you for a free, no-obligation consultation and to discuss any ways in which we can help you. Alternatively, we can speak with you over the telephone. Contact us now to begin your claim.
If you have already started a claim with another firm, always remember that you are entitled to transfer your claim if you wish. If you are not getting the service you deserve – perhaps because unqualified paralegals are running your case, or your case-handler is overloaded – you should consider switching or changing solicitors to Truth Legal.
Employers have legal duties which mean they must do all they reasonably can to keep their workers healthy and safe.
Even if you developed occupational asthma whilst working for an employer who is no longer in business, you may still be able to make a claim. Your claim would be directed against your former employer’s insurers at the time you were exposed to the harmful substances.
There are several legal elements to be established in an occupational asthma claim. To be successful, you must prove:
- You are suffering from occupational asthma;
- This was caused by your employment, rather than by any other cause; and
- Your employer at the time:
- could have reasonably anticipated the risks of your exposure to the hazardous substances in question; and
- did not take reasonable steps to ensure your safety.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 detail the steps an employer must take to ensure the safety of their workers. The regulations encourage employers to avoid using hazardous substances if at all possible, or to employ safer processes where such substances are needed. This could involve changing working practices or the substitution of hazardous materials for safer alternatives. In general, employers are directed to:
- Control the substance as much as possible to reduce exposure and avoid contamination.
- Ensure there is appropriate ventilation.
- Provide workers with appropriate safety equipment.
- Implement appropriate maintenance and cleaning procedures.
- Adopt working practices that minimise prolonged exposure to the harmful substance.
- Train workers about the dangers of such environments and about necessary safety procedures.
If your employer, or former employer, has not met their duties under these regulations, and you have suffered occupational asthma as a result, this will provide a strong basis for a claim.
All compensation claims are restricted by certain timescales. Most personal injury claims can only be started within 3 years of the incident which caused the injury.
Cases of industrial disease, such as occupational asthma, are unlikely to be so clear cut, however. Because symptoms can develop some time after the exposure which caused them, it can be difficult to determine when you suffered your ‘injury’. In these situations, the 3-year time limit runs from the date when you first had knowledge, or ought to have had knowledge, of the harm you had suffered. Often this will be when you have been diagnosed with occupational asthma. If so, you will have 3 years from the date of your diagnosis in which to claim.
The rules on claims time limits can be confusing. If you are in any doubt, or you wish to discuss your case, please contact us for advice.
In the majority of situations, Truth Legal can conduct your claim on the basis of a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement. This means that, in all but very rare circumstances, you will not have to pay our fees if we do not succeed in securing compensation for you.
If we are successful, often but not always some of our fees will be deducted from your compensation award. Most fees, however, are recovered from the other party (or more commonly their insurers). This is how No Win, No Fee Agreements usually operate.
If you have any questions about funding your claim, please contact us so that we can explain matters further.
For more information on occupational asthma claims, or for advice on your situation, contact us today. We offer free consultations, with no obligation to proceed further.
Let us help you to claim the compensation you deserve.