Occupational respiratory diseases refer to specific respiratory ailments that are caused or made worse by direct exposure to certain irritants in the workplace. These irritants encompass a variety of hazardous gases, vapours, dust, and fumes. Inhaling these substances over extended periods of time can cause irreversible lung damage. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with occupational respiratory disease as a result of your working conditions, you may have a case to claim compensation.
Common Occupational Respiratory Diseases & Their Causes
Certain workplaces generate dust, vapours, or fumes during various processes. Breathing in air polluted with these particles can causes a wide range of respiratory ailments. Every industry generates a different set of pollutants, as a result, workers in specific industries are more prone to a specific type of respiratory disease.
The following are some of the more common occupational respiratory diseases and the causes of each.
Silicosis, also known as potter’s rot or grinder’s disease, is caused by inhaling airborne crystalline silica. This is prevalent in a wide range of workplaces that involve working with glass, stone or clay. Workers employed in foundries, construction, quarrying, sandblasting, pottery, and stonemasonry are at highest risk.
If you’re suffering from silicosis you may like to refer to our silicosis compensation claims advice.
Asbestosis & Mesothelioma
Asbestosis, mesothelioma, and pleural thickening are all caused by breathing in tiny asbestos fibres. Exposure to miniscule amounts of asbestos fibres can put a worker at risk for any of these conditions. More information on Asbestos-related compensation claims can be found here.
Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis
Byssinosis or brown lung disease is caused by inhaling dust generated while processing cotton, hemp, and flax. Workers employed in the textile and cotton manufacturing industry are at highest risk.
Work-related asthma is caused by exposure to certain adhesives, dyes, chemicals or flour. It is commonly seen in workers employed in cotton and textile industries, animal care, food processing, farming, manufacturing, refineries.
Farmer’s Lung Disease
Farmer’s Lung Disease is caused by inhaling tiny spores or mites that typically form on crops or grains. Handling these crops in confined, poorly-ventilated spaces increases the risk of contracting this condition.
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an allergic lung ailment caused by breathing in certain chemicals, bacterial, or fungus spores. There are different forms of this condition such as mushroom worker’s lung or cork worker’s lung, each of which is caused by exposure to different substances.
Siderosis or welder’s lung is caused by inhaling microscopic iron particles and is commonly seen in welders and metal workers.
Each type of respiratory ailment has its own distinctive symptoms. However, breathlessness, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and persistent chest cough are almost always present in all cases.
Certain work activities and industries put workers at high risk for occupational respiratory diseases due to the nature of the work involved. This however does not absolve the employer of liability.
Employer Responsibility In Case Of Occupational Respiratory Disease
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an independent regulator that oversees safety at work, has put in place a number of legislations to protect workers health and safety. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health or COSHH addresses the risks of inhaling dust, gases, vapours, or fumes in the workplace. In addition, there are also specific legislations that cover exposure to other hazardous substances such as asbestos, radon gas, lead, and a few others that can cause serious respiratory ailments.
The COSHH and other regulations have explicit guidelines that employers are required to comply with to keep their workers safe from exposure to toxic substances. To protect workers from occupational respiratory diseases, employers are required to ensure that the workplace is properly ventilated to prevent the build-up of toxic substances. They are also required to provide workers with adequate respiratory masks as well as training in preventative care and first-aid measures in case of accidental exposure.
If your employer failed to comply with any of the guidelines and you contracted some type of occupational respiratory disease, you may be entitled to file an occupational respiratory disease claim for compensation.
3 Important Things To Know About Filing An Occupational Respiratory Disease Claim
- You can file an occupational respiratory disease claim even if your workplace has closed down. In many cases, symptoms of respiratory diseases manifest several years after the exposure occurred. Exposure to asbestos is a prime example of this. If your employer has shut down their business during that time, you can still claim compensation as your claim will be filed against the insurance company and not your employer.
- Most personal injury claims must be filed within 3 years from the time of the accident or exposure. However, because respiratory diseases typically take several years to develop, the 3-year time limit starts from the time the condition is diagnosed, not from the time of exposure.
- If the respiratory disease proves fatal, a family member can file an occupational respiratory disease claim on behalf of the deceased person. In this case, the claim must be filed within 3 years of the date of death.
No Win No Fee Occupational Respiratory Disease Claims
If you believe your employer’s negligence resulted in your occupational respiratory disease, you may be able to file a claim for compensation without paying any upfront legal fees. Speak to a legal expert about getting representation on a No Win No Fee basis. Most personal injury solicitors extend this offer to claimants to help them with funding their claim.
A No Win No Fee agreement allows you to file an occupational respiratory disease claim without any financial risk. That means you are not required to make any payments at all out of pocket. You only pay a percentage of the award towards legal fees if you win your claim.
The amount of compensation you will receive if your claim is successful will depend on a number of factors, primarily on the extent and severity of your respiratory disease and your actual financial losses from medical costs and loss of income. Your personal injury solicitor will make sure to claim for the maximum amount of compensation due to you.
If you would like expert advice regarding occupational respiratory disease claims from a personal injury solicitor please contact us and one will be made available to assist.