12,000 British Workers Suffering from Occupational Lung Disease

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12,000 workers in Great Britain reported suffering from occupational lung disease (new or long-term cases) over 2022/23.
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott Updated: In: Industrial Disease

Last November, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published their annual statistics report on work-related ill health and workplace injuries, revealing that 12,000 workers in Great Britain reported suffering from occupational lung disease (new or long-term cases) over 2022/23.

Furthermore, according to self-reports from the Labour Force Survey there are 19,000 estimated new cases of breathing or lung problems caused or worsened by work each year on average over the last three years. In 2021 alone mesothelioma killed 2,268 people. The number of lung cancer deaths linked to past exposure to asbestos remains similar.

What is Considered an Occupational Lung Disease?

Occupational lung diseases cover a wide spectrum of respiratory disorders. Occupational diseases must be caused as a direct result of work-place conditions where the individual breathes in harmful substances and irritants such as silica, chemical fumes, and asbestos. As a result, individuals develop diseases such as mesothelioma, silicosis, occupational asthma, black lung, respiratory acidosis, and asbestosis. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

Symptoms of lung disease include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) tops the list at 34% of all occupational lung diseases. This is followed by non-asbestos related lung cancer at 24%, mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer both at 20% and finally other diseases at 2%.

Asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosismesothelioma and pleural thickening can affect anyone who has been exposed to asbestos dust in the past, no matter how short the exposure to the asbestos lasted. Read more about the case of Susan Ellis whose trip to a shopping centre building site resulted in her diagnosis of mesothelioma 55 years later.

What Industries are Prone to Occupational Lung Disease?

There are certain industries that are linked to a higher percentage of workers developing occupational lung diseases. These include but are not limited to the following industries:

  • Agriculture
  • Brick making
  • Cadmium (PDF)
  • Mining
  • Construction
  • Dock workers
  • Flour and grain workers in the food industry
  • Foundry workers
  • Petroleum workers
  • Quarries
  • Rubber
  • Plastics
  • Stonemasonry
  • Textiles
  • Welders

It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and there are many other industries and occupations that can put workers at risk of developing occupational lung disease. If you are concerned that you may be suffering from occupational lung disease, it is important to see a doctor. If your doctor confirms your diagnosis, we recommend getting in contact with our industrial disease team to discuss your legal options.

Time Limitations on Making a Claim

If you have been diagnosed with an occupational lung disease within the past three years, you can claim for compensation though a personal injury claim. It’s important to get in contact with a solicitor as soon as possible, due to the 3-year limitation period. The 3-year period starts from the date you were first diagnosed with the disease, and not the date you were exposed to the harmful substances.

Seeking Legal Support for Occupational Lung Disease

In light of the recent report from HSE highlighting the persisting cases of occupational lung disease in the workplace, AWH Solicitors reaffirms its commitment to advocating for the rights of affected employees dealing with such conditions.

At AWH, our solicitors specialise in offering legal assistance tailored specifically to those who have suffered from lung disease due to negligent health and safety standards at work.

Our personal injury claims solicitors are here to help you receive compensation for any pain, suffering and financial losses you have experienced as a result of exposure to harmful substances. Our team can also help you raise a claim on behalf of a loved one that has passed away due to occupational lung disease.

Read more about our occupational lung disease team

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