Work related lung disease claims

Occupational lung disease or work related respiratory diseases are the result of damage to the lungs as a direct result of exposure to dust, gases, vapours and fumes at work. If you would like to speak to a specialist industrial disease solicitor about a respiratory disease claim call us on 0203 816 0065 for free initial advice.

Dust and fumes can cause coughs and phlegm or sensitise the body. This can in turn lead on to asthma symptoms when exposed to even minute quantities of the original irritant. Other conditions are the consequence of prolonged exposure to a sensitising substance which cause tiny particles to become lodged in the lungs causing scarring of the lungs.

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Occupational asthma

This causes the airways in the lungs to become narrower from time to time. It is called occupational asthma if something in the air at work brings on, or makes worse, the symptoms. These are wheezing and breathlessness. An indicator as to whether it could be work related is the fact that it improves when away from work, particularly whilst on holiday. Some causes of this are known to be flour, dyes, adhesives and chemicals.

Pneumoconiosis

Pneumoconiosis refers to a group of lung diseases caused by the inhalation and retention of dust within the lungs. This materialises after breathing in large amounts of certain types of dust over a prolonged period. Types of pneumoconiosis are;

  • Asbestosis and pleural thickening
  • Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (black lung, miner’s lung)
  • Silicosis (grinder’s disease, potter’s rot)
  • Bauxite fibrosis (smelter’s disease)
  • Berylliosis (brown lung)
  • Siderosis (welder’s lung)
  • Byssinosis (brown lung)

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Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (also described as 'black lung')  

This is self explanatory in that it is caused by breathing in large amounts of coal dust over a number of years. Consequently coal miners are often affected by this type of pneumoconiosis.

Silicosis

This type of pneumoconiosis is caused by breathing in silica dust over a prolonged period of time. Silica is present in many types of stone with sandstone, gritstone and quartzite all having over 70% silica within them. Concrete and mortar have varying amounts between 25-70%, Shale 40-60%, and then lower amounts are found in slate, brick, granite and ironstone. Therefore people most at risk are those who work in quarrying, slate works, foundries, potteries, stonemasonry, sandblasting, construction (particularly when cutting stone, bricks and concrete) and glassworks.

Asbestosis

This is caused through breathing in large quantities of asbestos dust and is one of the most common forms of pneumoconiosis. More information can be found here asbestosis compensation claims.

Extrinsic allergic alveolitis

This refers to a group of lung diseases that can develop after exposure to certain substances such as bacteria, fungi, animal proteins, plants and chemicals. Examples include:

  • Farmer’s lung - this is probably the most common and is due to an allergic reaction to microbes which form mould on crops in storage (particularly mouldy straw, hay, or grain) or grain mites. When the crops are handled, particularly in confined spaces such as a poorly ventilated farm-building, they disturb the spores/mites and these are inhaled by farm workers.
     
  • Metal working fluid - this arises through exposure to contaminated metal working fluid such as lubricants and coolants for metal machining purposes such as drilling, milling and turning. This can also cause asthma as well as dermatitis (if there is direct contact with skin).

Other lung conditions

  • Byssinosis (also called 'brown lung') - this is caused through exposure to cotton dust or flax. This was more common in the past with workers in the textile and cotton manufacturing industry.
  • Siderosis (also called 'welder’s lung') - this is common amongst metal workers and is caused through breathing in iron particles.

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Can I claim compensation for work related lung disease?

Yes. Your workplace should be kept as free as possible from dust, gases, fumes, mists and smoke. If your employer has failed to reduce the risk then you may be able to claim compensation for the pain and suffering and also for any financial loss due to the condition.

The Pneumoconiosis Worker’s Compensation Act Scheme, also known as the pneumoconiosis, byssinosis and miscellaneous diseases benefit of workers’ compensation is a payment claimed for certain diseases where negligence does not need to be proved in order to qualify for this payment. This is useful where civil compensation may not be possible as the employer is no longer in business and their insurers can not be traced.

If you would like to speak to a member of our industrial disease team about a possible claim call us on 0203 816 0065 for some free initial advice or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

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