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Occupational Asthma

Occupational asthma is a condition caused by exposure to chemicals or other harmful substances in the workplace, and affects a person's breathing. People who suffer from occupational asthma tend to notice their breathing gets worse as the working week progresses, or after a long day's work.

Symptoms include frequent coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath. Sufferers might also notice that their symptoms improve after taking time away from work, which is a key sign that their asthma is caused by the dust, gas or fumes they come into contact with at work.

What can cause occupational asthma?

The materials which can lead to occupational asthma are sometimes called respiratory sensitisers or 'asthmagens'. According to the charity Asthma UK, there are over 200 known sensitisers and more and more are being discovered as time goes on. Some of the most well-known triggers of occupational asthma are:

  • Wood dust from jobs involving woodwork or carpentry
  • Dust from flour and grain in industrial baking environments, or on farms
  • Chemicals involved in spray painting, foam moulding or surface coatings
  • Dust or powder from rubber or latex, used to make gloves for medical staff
  • Fumes from certain glues or floor cleaners

If you work in an industry such as baking, woodwork or agriculture, or you do a job which involves vehicle spray painting, soldering or working with laboratory animals, you could be in contact with some of these sensitisers, which could lead to occupational asthma. For those who need more information, the Health and Safety Executive publishes a full list of substances found to cause occupational asthma.

Preventing Occupational Asthma

The symptoms of occupational asthma can take weeks, months or even years to develop, meaning the best thing you can do is to take steps to prevent it from happening to you in the first place. If you think you might be at risk, make sure you have all of the appropriate safety equipment and protective clothing, try to minimise your contact with the substance, and inform your employer of your concerns as soon as possible.

According to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, your employer has a duty to protect employees from the causes of occupational asthma in the workplace. This means warning you of the presence of these substances and doing regular checks on exposure levels.

If you can't avoid coming into contact with these triggers, you should be provided with a protective mask to reduce the levels you breathe in during working hours.

Making a claim for occupational asthma compensation

If you're suffering from occupational asthma and you think your employer hasn't taken the necessary steps to protect your health, we can help. To claim occupational asthma compensation, call us now or start your claim online, or read our occupational asthma compensation page for more information.


Asbestosis is caused by inhaling harmful asbestos fibres which become airborne when disturbed. To make a claim, you must have been diagnosed with the asbestosis within three years.


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