Occupational asthma is caused by an allergic reaction to substances in the workplace – for example, dust, flour, chlorine or spray paints.
These allergens are known as respiratory sensitisers or asthmagens and may cause asthma by inducing a "hypersensitive state".
Not every case of hypersensitivity develops into asthma; however, prolonged exposure may result in an adult experiencing his or her first asthma attack.
In some cases of work-related asthma the worker will have been diagnosed with pre-existing asthma but, on exposure to further respiratory irritants, will suffer an increase in the severity or frequency of asthma attacks.
Who is at risk?
Vehicle paint technicians, bakers and flour confectioners have the highest rates of occupational asthma, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Metal making and treating process operatives are also at a higher risk of developing the condition than other workers.
Other jobs and areas of employment where exposure to substances in common use has caused respiratory disease include:
- Food industry
- Fishing and fish processing industry
- Health care
- Paper making
- Foam manufacturing
- Electronic and electrical industry
- Animal research laboratories
- Healthcare worker
- Moulding and adhesive bonding
Claim compensation for occupational asthma
Under the Health Safety at Work Act 1974 all employers are obliged to minimise exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.
As such employers have a duty to divulge details of any allergens that you, as a worker, are likely to come into contact with. Furthermore, in some cases it may be appropriate to complete a health screen check to ensure that employees are not at risk. Those at risk should receive every reasonable help and protection.
If you have been diagnosed with occupational asthma it may be possible to receive compensation, with the amount awarded dependent on your level of disability.
For help and information regarding your possible right to compensation, contact Thompsons, Scotland's leading personal injury solicitor firm, by calling today on 0800 0891331 for free legal advice.