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Asthma is a serious lung disease that can ruin lives. While it can sometimes develop during childhood, there are many situations where the disease is brought on by exposure to dusts, gases, fumes and vapours which people are exposed to during their employment.

What is an asthma attack?

An Asthma attack happens when the airways of the lung become narrowed or constricted leading to an obstruction to the flow of air in and out of the lungs. Symptoms can include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. Severe attacks can prove fatal, while mild attacks can be very frightening both for the sufferer and those around them. Attacks are normally infrequent, but living with the condition involves not just the fear of a serious attack, but ongoing lung and breathing issues.

Which jobs carry the highest risks?

There are many jobs that carry a risk of developing occupational asthma, but the following list features jobs with a particularly high risk as identified by the HSE:

  • Bakery
  • Welding
  • Vehicle Spray Painting
  • Healthcare work
  • Laboratory work
  • Agricultural work
  • Engineering work
  • Woodwork
  • Soldering

How to avoid asthma in the workplace

Employers have a wealth of information made available to them through asthma publications and government advice – they have a duty to research and apply the information provided so that they can ensure a healthy working environment for their employees. COSHH – the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations require employers to control the exposure of employees to any product, chemical or procedure which could cause them harm; either in the long or short term. This includes mechanical control such as providing suitable protective clothing and ensuring that ventilation is appropriate; administrative control such as ensuring that tasks are suitably supervised and any issues reported; and operator controls such as following instructions carefully.

What to do if you have developed asthma through your job

If you think you have developed asthma, or have any concerns about the health of your lungs as a result of your work, the first person you should consult is your doctor. They will be able to help you with any medical advice and suggest suitable treatment for the condition. Your next call should be to one of our solicitors – they have years of experience in dealing with situations like this, and will swiftly be able to you talk you through the process and identify if you are eligible to claim for compensation from your employer.