Is My Asthma Work Related?

Asthma is an incredibly common type of illness which is suffered by 5.4 million people in the UK currently (1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults) so it is likely that yourself or someone that you know will have a form of asthma.

Recent figures suggest that one in five adults that have asthma are thought to have developed this as a consequence of work. In other words they have occupational asthma.

The difficulty often lies in knowing whether an asthma condition was brought about by work conditions. If it can be provided that the asthma is occupational in nature then it is possible that the sufferer would be able to make a claim for compensation from their employer.

Occupational asthma checklist

The following checklist may help you to determine whether your asthma is work related.

  • If you had never suffered from asthma before but started to develop symptoms after working with a substance at work. Also, if you had a pre-existing asthma condition, but it was worsened after spending periods at work. If either of these cases are true then it could be a case of occupational asthma that should be reported.
  • Has the condition got worse over time? The more a person is exposed to the substance over a greater length of time, the worse the asthma will usually become.
  • Is my profession in the high risk list of employees developing occupational asthma?
  • Are any of the substances that I work with known to have caused occupational asthma in the past?
  • Do any of my colleagues that work with the same materials and under the same conditions as me show any of the same asthma type symptoms?
  • Is there a family history of asthma? Certain diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and dermatitis are known as atopic, in other words people in the same family can have the same genetic tendency to develop the same illnesses. If this is the case, then you could be genetically more likely to develop asthma in the workplace so you would need to ensure that the maximum safety measures were in place to protect your health.
  • There is no difference between occupational asthma and non-occupational asthma in terms of the disease itself but it is important to try to distinguish between the two because if a person is suffering from occupational asthma then recurring exposure to the sensitisers in the workplace causing the asthma can be bad for the workers’ health. Once occupational asthma has been discovered, steps can be taken to reduce or remove the sensitisers causing the asthma which will benefit the current and future workers greatly.
  • Do my asthmatic symptoms change when I am away from work e.g. out of work hours in the evenings or at weekends? If the asthma symptoms are always worse during the working week, and lessen during the weekends when away from work then that can be a sign of occupational asthma.

If you are concerned about any of the points raised above you should speak to your manager in work, speak with a suitably qualified medical professional about your symptoms and potentially speak to a union representative if needed or a personal injury solicitor if you sought to make a claim for compensation for your occupational asthma against your employer.