Window Fitter Wins £7500 in Compensation for Occupational Asthma

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

An AWH client has been awarded compensation after he was diagnosed with occupational asthma as a result of his job as a window fitter.

What Was the Case?

Our client was employed as a window fitter and fitted windows onto buses. He was exposed to the resins and sealants that are used to fit the windows. He was employed from February 2015 until October 2018. Although he had previously suffered from childhood asthma, this had not bothered him as an adult prior to his employment. He began to suffer with respiratory symptoms a few months after starting his employment with the defendant. He was treated in A&E, and then by his GP to manage his ongoing symptoms. He was then diagnosed with occupational asthma by both a consultant general and a chest physician.

What is Occupational Asthma?

Occupational asthma is most commonly caused by breathing in substances at work like dust, chemicals, fumes or some form of animal fur or hair. If you develop new asthma symptoms at work, or your childhood asthma comes back, then you could have occupational asthma.

You may have been employed at your workplace for a while before you notice symptoms. This is because it takes a while for your immune system to become sensitive to workplace triggers. However, once you’ve become sensitive to a substance at work, it can trigger asthma symptoms the next time that you come into contact with it – even if it’s just in small amounts.

The symptoms of occupational asthma include:

  • A cough
  • Wheezing
  • A tight chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Conjunctivitis (itchy, red, inflamed eyes)
  • Rhinitis, where the inside of the nose becomes inflamed or irritated

Occupational asthma is treated best when it is identified as soon as possible. This means that you will be able to identify the triggers and distance yourself from them. If this is done soon enough, then you may be able to reduce the symptoms, or even get rid of them completely. You may need to have a preventative inhaler given to you that will help to ease the symptoms. The longer that you leave your occupational asthma, then the longer it may take to treat or recover from it.

Employer’s Duty of Care

All employers have a legal duty of care that they must extend to all employees. This includes the promise that they will minimise any exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.

If your work involves you having contact with allergens or irritants, then:

  • Risks should be explained to you before you start work.
  • You should have a health check, including a breathing test, when you start employment
  • You should have health checks every year, to ensure that you’re not developing asthma
  • Your employer should notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if you develop occupational asthma

If you don’t believe that your employer is doing enough to help, then you could try:

  • Talking to your health and safety representative at work
  • Contacting your trade union or professional body
  • Contacting your local HSE office for advice

We have a great deal of experience with helping those who have been impacted by occupational asthma. If you and those that you work with believe that you are suffering, then we urge you to get in touch today.

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