Welder Wins Compensation After Being Provided with Inadequate PPE

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

An AWH client has been awarded compensation, after he was diagnosed with an exacerbation of his asthma as a result of his job as a welder.

What was the case?

Our client expressed an interest in welding in 2013 and attended a course in order to be able to carry out welding during the course of his employment from 2014 until he left his employment.  He alleged that the ventilation in the area where he was welding was inadequate and relied upon the documentation provided by an independent Occupational Hygiene Technician who concluded that if the Claimant was exposed to welding fumes as alleged then it would have increased the risk of aggravating his pre-existing asthma.

The Claimant alleged that he was provided with inadequate helmet as PPE which is denied by the Defendant. He further alleged that his welding workload increases from 2016 which is denied by the Defendant and the expert identified that little evidence was provided to support compliance of a number of the COSHH regulations and the PPE regulations.

What is occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma is a type of asthma that is caused by exposure to inhaled irritants in the workplace. Occupational asthma can often be reversed if the irritants that cause the asthma are avoided. However, in some cases, permanent damage can result if the person experiences prolonged exposure. Examples of some workplace irritants include:

  • Dusts
  • Gases
  • Fumes
  • Vapours

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of occupational asthma are the same as any other form of asthma, even though they are caused by external irritants. They include:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Eye irritation
  • Chest tightness

The cause can often be either allergic or nonallergic in nature. Symptoms will often get better when the person is not at work. Sometimes, occupational asthma symptoms do not appear until several hours after the exposure, even while at home after work. During later stages of occupational asthma, asthma symptoms may become a problem during exposure to other, more common asthma triggers, such as smoke, dust, and temperature changes.

Read more on our occupational asthma page

What are possible treatments for occupational asthma?

Treatment for occupational asthma most often includes avoiding the substance that triggers the asthma attack or symptoms. Persons with occupational asthma should also avoid being exposed to certain allergens and gases. Other treatment may include medications to control the asthma. If the case is advanced, then sometimes treatment may also include:

  • Medications
  • Breathing aids
  • Physical therapy

How can occupational asthma be avoided?

Unfortunately, those are exposed to triggers of occupational asthma may have to change their job in order to avoid the allergens. However, your employer should always take the necessary steps to protect you from the causes of occupational asthma. These steps can include:

  • Change the work process to better handle irritant exposure
  • Use industrial hygiene techniques that are appropriate for the type of irritant that employees are being exposed to
  • Encourage employees be aware of any personal and/or family medical history of asthma which may put them at greater risk
  • Encourage employees to have regular medical check-ups to identify possible damage

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this case study, then our specialist can help.

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