The 3rd May 2016 is World Asthma Day with the aim to promote asthma care and awareness of asthma all around the world.
In Ireland, 470,000 people suffer from asthma, an inflammatory disorder of the lungs which results in symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, cough and chest tightness. It is estimated that 10% of all adult onset asthma is caused by their work.
Occupational asthma is caused as a direct result of workplace exposure to known respiratory sensitizers. Occupational asthma is generally divided into two categories: – 1. Irritant induced occupational asthma which refers to a single very high exposure to an irritant chemical; 2. Allergic occupational asthma, which involves sensitisation to a specific chemical agent in the workplace over a period of time. This accounts for over 90% of all cases of occupational asthma.
Several hundred substances found in the workplace have been found to be respiratory sensitizers and common workplace activities involving known sensitizers would include vehicle spray painting, foam manufacture, handling grain at docks, milling, malting or baking, electronic assembly, soldering, computer manufacturing, healthcare laboratories, woodworking, saw milling, hairdressers, pharmaceuticals to name but a few.
An employer must ensure a safe working environment where exposure to substances which can cause asthma is prevented or controlled. Employees are entitled to information about the hazards of the workplace and should demand that protective and preventative measures be taken where necessary. In addition, they should be provided with information, instruction and supervision regarding the risks associated with known sensitizers.
Ronan Hynes, Workplace Illness Expert, has previously acted for and recovered substantial compensation damages on behalf of a former baker who developed occupational asthma when exposed to a common known sensitizer in the baking industry – flour – when his employer was held responsible for the development of his condition.
Please contact Ronan Hynes, partner at Keating Connolly Sellors, if you or a loved one have suffered a workplace illness or have been diagnosed with occupational asthma on 061-414355 or [email protected].
The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We advise people to always seek specific expert advice for their individual circumstances.