With industrial disease claims on the rise, the importance of safety and prevention in the workplace is greater than ever. Both occupational dermatitis and occupational asthma cases are on the rise, and employers need to be made aware of the risks that they are placing their employees in.
What is the duty of the employer?
All employers have to fulfil a duty of care towards all employees. This includes:
- Carrying out regular risk assessments that address all potential harm in the workplace.
- Consulting all employees on health and safety issues. This consultation must either be direct, or through a safety representative who has been elected by the workforce or appointed by the trade union.
- Giving all employees information about the risks that are in the workplace, and how they are protected, in addition to instructing and training employees on how to avoid them.
If a worker has suffered from a workplace-related condition because of an employer’s negligence, they can likely claim compensation.
What are common industrial disease claims?
Some of the most common industrial illnesses are:
- Hand arm vibration syndrome
- Industrial deafness
- Latex allergies
With the last two being increasingly common, it is important if you work in an environment that puts you at risk to have an awareness about the conditions.
What is occupational dermatitis?
Occupational dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin, often caused by contact with hazardous substances or other elements of your working environment. It is not contagious, so it can’t be spread to other workers or family. In most cases, occupational dermatitis is only found on the hands as they are the most exposed part of your body at work and they are likely to be touching the substances that trigger the adverse reaction.
The symptoms of occupational dermatitis include:
- Blotchy skin
What is occupational asthma?
Another common industrial disease, occupational asthma is asthma that has been caused by inhaling compounds that are carried in the air, often by dust that is produced in working environments. The symptoms of occupational asthma include:
- Constricted chest movement
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing and coughing
- Asthma attacks
Due to their nature, our lungs are constantly exposed to various compounds that are carried in the air. Some of these are harmful to the body and some of them are harmless. The immune system of the lungs determines whether or not they need to mount a response to these compounds, and a dysfunction in this system can lead to a negative response to harmless compounds. This is what ultimately leads to occupational asthma. Because of the heightened awareness of the dangers of inhaling flour or dust, the British Medical Journal has stated that scientifically based prevention is possible. It is known that if an individual distance themselves from the irritant, it is possible to recover from occupational asthma.