Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system. In the severest cases, it can cause acute difficulty in breathing. It affects between 5% and 10% of the population. There are an estimated 1,500 to 3,000 new cases of Occupational Asthma each year. This rises to 7000 a year if figures for asthma made worse by work are included.

Asthma caused by exposure to substances at work

If a claim is to be successfully pursued for an asthmatic condition it is necessary to demonstrate that the workplace was to blame for the condition developing on the basis either that substances at work have aggravated a pre-existing asthma or they have caused the asthma.

Workplace causes of Occupational Asthma

There are a variety of possible causes. For instance:

  • Isocyanates,
  • flour,
  • grain,
  • hay,
  • soldering flux / welding fumes,
  • wood dusts,
  • some glues and resins,
  • paint fumes,
  • urethanes,
  • varnishes,
  • foams,
  • certain animal substances,
  • cotton flax
  • hemp dust.

For further details, please click here.

The duties on an Employer

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) set out specific standards that an employer must meet when requiring an employee to work with substances that can cause asthma. Breach of these standards would form the basis for an employee to commence a claim for occupational asthma.

I have difficulty breathing – can I make a claim?

It is firstly necessary to establish (by obtaining medical evidence) the precise nature of the condition that is causing your breathing difficulties. Asthma can be caused by factors outside the workplace, for instance, allergies to house dust mites. In order to progress a claim for damages, it will be necessary to demonstrate by medical evidence that the condition is caused or aggravated by negligent exposure to hazardous substances at work, or as a result of exposure to hazardous substances in breach of COSHH Regulations.

I think I have Occupational Asthma – how do I make a claim?

You should consult your Trade Union representative. If you do not have the benefit of Union representation, you can contact us on 0113 245 0733 or email us on our ‘Contact Us’ page by clicking here.

What damages can I hope to recover?

It is impossible to be precise. Some asthmatic conditions merely involve a one-off attack, others cause permanent breathing problems.

It should be emphasised that these are complex claims. They should only be handled by solicitors with experience of this type of claim.

  • A recent survey identified 183,000 with lung problems, which they thought were work-related.
  • It can cause serious disabling symptoms.
  • Specialist medical advice is needed to determine the real cause.
  • Consult your Trade Union if you think you might have Occupational Asthma, or any kind of Occupational Disease.