World Asthma Day sees no reduction in instances of Occupational Asthma
May 1 2018 is the 20th annual World Asthma Day, an event held each May to raise awareness of asthma worldwide. This year’s theme is “NEVER TOO EARLY, NEVER TOO LATE. It’s always the right time to address airways disease.”
It is estimated that there are two to three hundred new cases of occupational asthma seen by chest physicians each year in the UK, which is generally considered to be an underestimate of the true scale with many victims suffering silently. In the past ten years there has been no change in the number of cases. Occupational asthma is the most common cause of adult onset asthma and makes up 9 to 15 per cent of cases of asthma in adults of working age.
In some industries up to 10 per cent of employees develop occupational asthma.
Occupations with the highest rates of occupational asthma include baking, painting, healthcare, wood-working, agriculture, animal work and hairdressing.
Client wins £10,000 for workplace asthma
Roberts Jackson’s client was recently awarded £10,000 after his asthma was severely exacerbated by his work as a painter and decorator.
Having been diagnosed with asthma in 2003, our client’s symptoms escalated to chronic asthma due to his exposure at work. During his employment he used oil-based paints and a solvent-based window cleaner, both of which irritated his asthma. Working indoors with little ventilation only made matters worse. He transported these chemicals along with bleach and turpentine in his van but his employer refused to place a partition in his van to minimise his exposure to fumes. The claimant was forced to buy his own mask and fan after his employer provided inadequate equipment. The firm’s client found that his symptoms only improved when he was away from the work environment, indicating that this was clearly a case of occupational asthma.
Roberts Jackson’s associate who worked on the case, Kelsey Whitehouse, said the case supports the theme for this year’s World Asthma Day:
“As this case proves, it’s never too early and never too late for employers to meet the health and safety requirements expected of them. In this case if the employer had listened to the concerns of our client and provided him with adequate PPE (personal protective equipment), it could have saved our client so much pain and discomfort. With the number of cases of occupational asthma remaining static for 10 years, it’s clear that employers still don’t understand the risks and their duty to protect their workers.”