Can I Make a COPD Claim?

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Can I Make a COPD Claim?
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott In: Industrial Disease

If you have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD or another respiratory-related illness, our solicitors may be able to make a COPD claim. To make a successful claim you must be able to prove that your illness was caused by negligent acts or omissions by your employer.

COPD is the 4th leading cause of death throughout the world. COPD is a long term-illness that makes breathing very difficult. Once COPD develops the damage to the lungs, is irreversible.

Symptoms of COPD

With COPD, the lungs and breathing tubes are damaged. Therefore, tasks such as walking up a hill, or playing with your children can become difficult due to shortness of breath.

Other symptoms include:

  • A persistent chest cough and phlegm.
  • Wheeze.
  • More frequent and troublesome chest infections.

In most cases, COPD develops slowly. As a result, symptoms only start becoming problematic in mid-life, usually later forties onwards.

Because COPD onsets gradually, many people do not realise they have the disease. Therefore, their symptoms can often be confused with general signs of ageing or lack of fitness. This can mean that the disease does not get diagnosed in the earlier stages.

The sooner you realise you have lung issues, the quicker you can put into place ways to help such as quitting smoking and reducing exposure to harmful dust, fumes, and gases. Medical treatments may also help.

Is COPD an Industrial Disease?

Although the main cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes, exposure to dust in the workplace can also cause COPD. If you have been exposed to dust in the workplace, and it can be proven that this is what has caused your COPD, then your COPD has been caused by an Industrial Disease.

Large cases have come to the media, for COPD such as thousands of British coal miners receiving compensation for COPD.

However, not only coal miners are exposed to the harmful environments that cause COPD. The following list shows the occupations and substances that can cause COPD:

Occupations:

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

If you work in any of these environments and you smoke or have smoked, your risk of getting COPD is increased.

Substances:

  • Cadmium dust
  • Cadmium fumes
  • Grain and flour dust
  • Organic dust
  • Silica dust
  • Welding fumes

It’s important to note that some of these substances can be linked to other diseases. For example, welding fumes can result in pneumonia. Additionally, some of these substances can cause occupational asthma.

Work-Related COPD

New research from HSE, estimates that 15% of all cases of COPD could be attributed to work. As a result, 4,000 people die from COPD per year currently in Britain. Of those suffering from COPD, 40% are below retirement age and ¼ of those below retirement age are now unable to work at all.

Actions Employers Can Take to Reduce the Risks of COPD

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that “preventing dusts, fume and irritant gases from getting into the air is usually more effective, simpler, and cheaper, than controlling dust once it is in the air.”

In addition, HSE outlines top tips for employers to follow to reduce COPD in the workplace. This includes:

  • Use water for wet techniques including cutting, grinding or blasting and for suppression on dusty roadways.
  • Buy dust-reduced materials e.g., pellets, tablets, solutions or pastes and use pre-weighed material in sealed bags.
  • Segregate– put dusty machinery in a separate room or automate processes.
  • Carry out risk assessments.

HSE provides further information, including regulations which can be found here.

Can I Make a COPD Claim for Compensation?

If you have been diagnosed with COPD you may be able to claim compensation. However, it’s important to note that a successful claim requires you to prove that your COPD was caused as a direct result of negligent acts or omissions by your employer. Our industrial disease solicitors are experts at gathering the evidence needed to prove employer negligence.

To find out more about how we can advise you on a COPD compensation claim, get in touch with the number provided or fill in an online enquiry form and someone will be in touch.

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