Memory Foam Worker Wins Asthma Case

Memory Foam
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Case by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott

AWH have helped a general operative win compensation, after they suffered from aggravated bronchial asthma while working in a factory making memory foam mattresses.

What was the case?

Our client worked in a factory that manufactured mattresses made out of memory foam. The working environment had no ventilation, and our client was provided with inadequate equipment to protect respiratory function. Due to this, they eventually began to suffer from aggravated bronchial asthma from exposure to Isocyanate (TDI). This occurred when the memory foam was cooling down, and the fumes were released into the environment as a dangerous substance.

What is bronchial asthma?

Bronchial asthma is also commonly known just as asthma. It is the generic term for various chronic inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract, wheezing sounds when breathing, a dry cough and instances of respiratory distress. Asthma symptoms can vary in terms of severity and frequency of occurrence.

There are two different types of bronchial asthma. In this case, the type that our client contracted was intrinsic asthma. This often presents between the ages of thirty to forty years, and it can be caused by very different factors. Specific triggers may include respiratory tract infections, a genetic incompatibility with certain medications or chemical or toxic substances from the environment (smog, ozone, dust, etc) – this could be from factors in your workplace.

What are the symptoms of bronchial asthma?

The main symptoms of asthma are triggered by the narrowing of the bronchi. When the inflamed bronchi come into contact with the triggering factor, the mucous membrane of the bronchi swells, the production of mucus is stimulated, and the bronchial muscles will cramp. This then makes breathing much more difficult. Some of the most common symptoms include a whistling sound when breathing and a dry cough. A very severe asthma attack can also cause heart palpitations (also known as tachycardia), and the lips and nails may even turn blue in colour.

Employer’s Duty of Care

In working environments where you may be exposed to potentially dangerous fumes, your employer should always uphold the legal duty of care that they have towards you as an employee. This duty of care states that your employer must:

  • Make sure that works and any others who may enter the business are protected from anything that may cause them harm.
  • Carrying out risk assessments in the workplace that address all possible risks that could be present in the workplace.
  • Giving employees information about the possible risks in their workplace ad how they are protected from them – instruction and training on how to deal with the risks should also be provided.
  • Consulting employees on health and safety issues. Consultation must either be direct or through a safety representative who have been elected by the workforce or appointed by a trade union.

Read more on our industrial disease claims page

Ultimately, the defendant admitted liability and our client was awarded £8,000. AWH were pleased to assist in this particular case, and the client stated that our specialist Charlotte ‘gave very good advice and was responsive.’

If you have been involved in a similar situation and think that you may need legal assistance, then we can help.

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