Compensation for occupational asthma
If you have developed asthma due to your working environment, you could have a valid claim for occupational asthma compensation
How Much Could You Claim?

Occupational Asthma Claims

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes a narrowing of the bronchial walls. Some people have asthma as a naturally caused complaint. In contrast, others are diagnosed following their employment in an environment that does not make adequate provisions for the risks of respiratory illness.

Many industries and environments can cause occupational asthma due to the allergens, chemicals and pollution found on site. These include woodwork, agriculture, engineering and the healthcare industry. Under the UK Health and Safety laws, employers must take all reasonable measures to protect employees from harm and provide a safe environment that does not put them at risk of developing workplace asthma.

If you have been diagnosed with occupational asthma and your employer may be at fault for not taking adequate care to prevent the condition, you could be eligible to make an occupational asthma claim for compensation. For a free case assessment, call 0800 032 3660 today or arrange a call back with a friendly legal adviser.

What is occupational asthma, and what causes it?

Occupational asthma is an industrial disease caused or exacerbated by exposure to certain substances in the workplace. It is a respiratory condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

The symptoms of occupational asthma usually develop gradually over time and can be triggered by exposure to various substances, such as chemicals, dust, or fumes found in some workplaces. The following are some of the most common causes of asthma at work:

  • Chemicals such as isocyanates, chlorine, ammonia
  • Dust from grains, wood or other materials
  • Animal fur, skin and saliva, as well as dust from animal enclosures
  • Enzymes used in various industries, such as baking
  • Fumes, mists and vapours from electronic, engineering or metalwork
  • Chlorine in indoor pools
  • Irritants such as smoke, solvents and strong odours
  • Oils found in petroleum-based products like hydraulic fluid for hydraulic systems in heavy equipment like forklifts
  • Gases produced by welding operations

Exposure to these will likely result in asthma within weeks, months or even years. It is important to note that once a person develops occupational asthma, even very low levels of exposure to the substance can trigger symptoms. Therefore, it is essential to identify the cause of the condition and take steps to prevent further contact with the trigger as soon as possible.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were an estimated 198 new cases of occupational asthma in 2019. This figure could likely be over ten times higher when undiagnosed cases and other work-related asthma symptoms are factored in.

Employers have a duty to take all reasonable measures to prevent exposure to harmful substances at work. If this duty of care is breached and an employee develops workplace asthma, they might be entitled to claim for occupational asthma.

Am I eligible to make an occupational asthma claim?

If your asthma diagnosis is related to your work environment and your employer has failed to take adequate preventive measures, you will likely be entitled to compensation. However, you must make your claim within three years of your diagnosis to be considered a valid work accident claim.

It is doubtful that you will be eligible to claim occupational asthma compensation if more than three years have passed since your initial diagnosis. There are several exceptions to the three-year rule, such as if the claimant is under 18 or lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings.

To make a successful occupational asthma claim, the court must be satisfied that you have been diagnosed with the condition and that the liability lies with your employer. Your solicitor will work closely with you to establish and gather evidence to prove this. You can learn more about what you will need to support your claim in the section below.

To find out if you have a valid claim for work induced asthma, call 0800 032 3660 to receive a free case assessment with an experienced legal adviser. Or, if you prefer, you can enter your details to receive a call back and discuss your case, with no obligation to start legal proceedings.

What will I need to make a successful occupational asthma claim?

To make a successful claim, your solicitor must prove that your employer did not adequately observe their duty of care and are liable for your condition. The solicitor will also be required to show that you have been diagnosed with occupational asthma and the severity of the illness. That will be done by having your symptoms assessed by an independent medical expert, which your solicitor will arrange on your behalf.

To assist your solicitor in building a strong occupational asthma claim, the following documents may be used where available:

  • Proof of diagnosis, including any test results, medical records and treatment plans;
  • Photographic evidence of your work environment, highlighting any vulnerabilities in safety and, where possible, any specific causes for respiratory complaints;
  • Copies of any work records relating to your illness and a copy of an accident report form if you filed one with your employer;
  • Contact details of witnesses such as work colleagues that may be asked for a statement later;
  • Copies of receipts for prescriptions, treatment and related travel expenses;
  • Your statement regarding your workplace conditions, diagnosis, and how work induced asthma has affected your life.

Once the solicitor has collected all necessary evidence and supporting documents, they will build the strongest case to win the highest occupational asthma compensation award possible.

If your employer admits liability, your solicitor will negotiate your settlement directly with them or their insurer. If they deny responsibility for your work induced asthma, your solicitor can help you take your claim to court and argue your case before a judge.

Which occupations are most at risk for work-related asthma?

Occupational asthma can affect individuals working in a wide range of industries, but the risk is higher in some workplaces. According to the Health and Safety Executive, some of the most high-risk occupations for workplace asthma include:

  • Vehicle paint technicians
  • Bakeries and kitchens
  • Flour mills and flour confectioners
  • Manufacturing of food products
  • Manufacturing of metals, chemicals and chemical products
  • Farming and agriculture
  • Process, Plant and Machine Operatives
  • Hospitals and other healthcare settings
  • The car manufacturing industry and repair workshops
  • Hairdressing and beauty salons
  • Engineering and metalwork workplaces
  • Welding and soldering

If you have developed asthma at work and you believe that your employer is responsible, you should contact a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible. They will evaluate your situation and give you free advice on your options. If you are eligible for occupational asthma compensation, they will also offer you a No Win No Fee service, so you can claim without taking any financial risks.

What are the likely symptoms of occupational asthma?

Workplace asthma is caused by exposure to hazardous substances at work that cause inflammation and trigger an allergic reaction in your lungs. It can take years for symptoms to appear, and these can vary from person to person but typically include:

  • Wheezing, a whistling or hissing sound when breathing out;
  • Persistent dry cough that may worsen during the workweek or work shift;
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, especially during or after physical activity;
  • A feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest;
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose that may occur with or without other symptoms;
  • Eye irritation, such as redness, itching, or watering of the eyes;
  • Feeling fatigued, especially during or after work;
  • Sweating or flushing of the skin around the face and neck.

If your GP suspects that you have developed work-induced asthma, they may suggest several tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Lung function tests measure the amount of air you can exhale and how quickly you can do it. They can help determine if your airways are narrowed, which is a characteristic of asthma.
  • Peak flow monitoring involves using a handheld device to measure the speed and force with which you can exhale air, and it can help track changes in lung function over time.
  • Skin prick tests involve exposing your skin to small amounts of various substances to see if you have an allergic reaction.
  • Blood tests measure levels of specific antibodies in your blood that may indicate an allergic response.
  • Specific inhalation challenge (SIC) involves inhaling a small amount of the substance suspected to be causing your symptoms while being monitored for changes in lung function.

If the asthma is diagnosed quickly, the cause is identified, and you stop exposure to the trigger, the condition can sometimes disappear entirely. If symptoms continue, you may need to manage them and lower the risk of an asthma attack by using an inhaler or allergy shots.

The long-term effects of occupational asthma can vary depending on the severity and duration of exposure to the triggering agent. Some possible long-term effects of occupational asthma can include:

  • Persistent asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, even when not exposed to the trigger;
  • Reduced lung function, which can make it difficult to perform physical activities and lead to chronic respiratory problems;
  • Increased risk of respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia;
  • Scarring of lung tissue, which can further reduce lung function and lead to chronic respiratory problems;
  • Increased risk of developing other respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It is essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you suffer from occupational asthma and to take steps to prevent further exposure to the triggering agent to minimise the risk of long-term effects.

Employer duty of care to prevent asthma at work

Under UK law, employers have a duty of care to protect their employees from harm and provide a safe working environment. This duty of care extends to protecting workers from developing occupational asthma and is stated by legislation such as:

Under these laws, employers are expected to take reasonable steps to control asthma caused by work-related conditions, such as exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes, or other respiratory irritants. Employers can take several measures to prevent asthma at work, including:

  • Conduct regular health and safety assessments to identify and address any hazards;
  • Implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce exposure to respiratory irritants;
  • Provide adequate ventilation and respiratory protection equipment, such as masks or respirators, if workers are exposed to toxic substances;
  • Inspect the personal protective equipment regularly and carry out required maintenance;
  • Ensure employees receive proper training on safe working practices and the use of respiratory protection equipment;
  • Minimise exposure by avoiding the use of strong chemicals and other irritants;
  • Educate workers on the risks associated with their job tasks and the materials they come into contact with
  • Provide proper training and instructions on the precautions employers should take when performing specific tasks;
  • Regularly review risks and update the safety measures as necessary.

If your employer has failed to fulfil their duty of care and you developed occupational asthma, you might be able to claim compensation.

All employees are legally entitled to make a claim against their employer if they are injured at work through no fault of their own. Your employer is legally obliged to ensure that your occupational asthma compensation claim does not adversely affect your working terms and relationship.

If your employer makes it difficult for you to continue working for the company following a claim or if they try to dissuade you from progressing with the case, they are breaking the law. The law protects employees from unfair treatment or retaliation in such circumstances, and you will be able to make a further claim against them under employment laws.

All UK employers are legally obliged to take out liability insurance, which covers them against such claims. That means you can rest assured that any compensation awarded will be paid by the employer’s insurance company rather than the business directly.

How much compensation can I get for occupational asthma?

The amount of money you are awarded following a successful occupational asthma claim will depend upon the individual details of your case. Your solicitor will offer you a free, no-obligation consultation to review the details of your employment and diagnosis. Once they have evaluated your case, the solicitor will be able to use their knowledge and experience to offer you a realistic guideline of the likely award that you will be offered. That will allow you to manage your expectations throughout the claims process.

To achieve the amount of compensation you rightfully deserve, your solicitor will gather as much evidence as is available to prove your employer’s liability and the severity of your condition. As well as receiving an amount for the pain and suffering caused by your illness, you can also claim for financial losses sustained. These can include:

  • Loss of earnings if you have been unable to work due to your condition
  • The cost of any medical treatment and rehabilitation required
  • The cost of training for another profession if you have to leave your job
  • Cost of care and assistance, even if provided by friends or family
  • Expenses for travel and accommodation
  • Any other related financial losses and expenses

When calculating the compensation for the actual injury and the pain and suffering it has caused you, your solicitor will refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College. According to these, you could receive:

  • Up to £5,150 for mild cases of work induced asthma that resolve within a few months
  • £9,080 – £16,380 for relatively mild asthma symptoms
  • £16,380 – £22,440 for bronchitis and wheezing with a good chance of recovery
  • £22,440 – £36,700 for chronic asthma causing breathing difficulties and an occasional need for an inhaler
  • £36,740 – £56,100 for disabling workplace asthma that causes significant sleep problems and permanently affects work and daily activities

Once your personal injury lawyer has gathered all the documentation and evidence to support your case, they will be able to also give you a realistic estimate of your occupational asthma compensation.

What is the time limit to claim occupational asthma compensation?

In the UK, there is a three-year limitation period to start a claim starting from the date of an accident or when you became aware of an injury or illness. Occupational asthma is a chronic lung disease that can sometimes take years to develop. This means the three-year period to start an occupational asthma claim begins when a medical professional diagnoses the condition.

Claiming occupational asthma compensation can be a complex and laborious process. Gathering evidence to prove liability and how you developed the illness could potentially take many months, so it is always best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after finding out about your condition. That will give your solicitor plenty of time to build a strong case and ensure you do not miss any crucial deadlines.

There are several exceptions to the three-year time limit, which include, but are not limited to:

  • If you started work at 16 and developed workplace asthma while still under 18, a suitable adult could claim on your behalf until you become a legal adult. Afterwards, you will have until your 21st birthday to claim.
  • If the claimant has lost the ability to claim for themselves, the lime limit is suspended, and a litigation friend could seek compensation on their behalf at any time. If the injured person regains mental capacity and nobody has claimed on their behalf, they will have another three years to take legal action themselves.
  • If you or a loved one developed asthma at work abroad, the time limit to claim could depend upon the foreign country’s laws and be much shorter than three years.

Do solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service for industrial asthma claims?

Yes, the injury solicitors we work in partnership with are pleased to offer clients the opportunity to make an occupational asthma claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you will not be at any financial risk in your pursuit to access the compensation you rightly deserve. You will not pay any solicitor fees if they cannot win your case. The many benefits of a No Win No Fee service include:

  • You can benefit from legal representation regardless of your financial situation, as you do not have to pay any upfront fees to your solicitor. They will provide free legal advice and support throughout the claims process, assuming the risk of litigation and being unable to recoup their costs if they do not secure occupational asthma compensation on your behalf. On the other hand, if you win the claim, your solicitor is entitled to a success fee deducted from your settlement. This will be agreed upon with them from the beginning and cannot be more than 25% of the compensation awarded to you.
  • No Win No Fee offers complete financial security when pursuing a claim for work induced asthma. In addition to the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) between you and your solicitor, they will also help you secure After the Event (ATE) insurance before starting legal proceedings. This type of legal expenses insurance guarantees you will not have to cover any charges and disbursements if your case fails.
  • If you make a No Win No Fee occupational asthma claim, you only have to pay anything if and after you receive the compensation you deserve. That includes the cost of the ATE policy and the success fee paid to your solicitor. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not lose a single penny, making it the best way to fund a personal injury case.

To find out if your case has merit or learn more about the No Win No Fee claims process, call 0800 032 3660 for a free consultation with a friendly legal adviser. Alternatively, enter your details into the contact form below, and a legal adviser will call you back.