Oakwood Solicitors

Respiratory Diseases

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What is Respiratory Disease Injury?

Respiratory illnesses affect the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self–limiting conditions, such as the common cold, to more life-threatening diseases such as bacterial pneumonia and lung cancer.

What are the Symptoms?

The main problems to look out for are the following:

  • Difficulty Breathing

While shortness of breath during exercise is normal, if it doesn’t go away or is present when you are resting, it could be a sign of respiratory illness.

  • Breathing noisily

If you find yourself wheezing or breathing noisily, it is a good indicator that something more serious may be wrong.

  • Lingering Chest Pain

If you have a chest pain that seems to linger constantly and seems to get worse / aggravated when coughing then this could be a sign of respiratory illness

  • Coughing up Blood

If you find yourself coughing up blood, this is a clear sign that something could be wrong. It could be coming from your lungs or respiratory tract. Whatever the cause, this is serious and should be investigated further.

Lung Cancer


What are the Common Respiratory Illnesses?

Here is an overview of some of the most common respiratory diseases:

  • Asthma

This causes inflammation of the body’s airways and can make it difficult to breathe. Whilst asthma normally starts in childhood, it can develop at any time.

  • Pneumonia

This infection occurs in the air sacs of the lungs. While the recovery time to usually 1–3 weeks, pneumonia can be serious and even life-threatening.

  • COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a number of condition that cause problems with breathing. These include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This can develop over the years, and a lot of the time is simply put down to ageing.

  • Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer for men and women. It can develop in any part of the lung.

What Types of Job Put You Most at Risk?

There is no finite list as to what jobs may expose you to chemicals that could cause respiratory diseases, but generally the following types of jobs are considered the riskiest:

  • Construction

Workers who inhale dust in demolition zones can be at risk.

  • Manufacturing

Many factory workers are exposed to dust, chemicals, and gases that could lead to respiratory diseases.

  • Textiles

Textile workers who make upholstery, towels, socks, bed linens and clothes are at risk of exposure. They may inhale particles released from cotton and other materials.

  • Cleaning
  • Many commonly-used disinfectants can cause or worsen respiratory disease.



What is the Duty of My Employer to Protect Me From Developing Respiratory Illness Through Work?

As well as common law duty to ensure a safe place of work and a safe system of work, your employer will have a number of duties set down by statute.


 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

  • Employers have a duty so far as is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety and welfare of their employees.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

  • Duty to undertake a reasonable risk assessment (Reg. 3)
  • Requirement to undertake a health surveillance (Reg. 6)

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

  • Ensure that suitable personal equipment is provided (Reg. 4)
  • Ensure an assessment of any personal protective equipment is undertaken to determine whether it is suitable.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002

  • Required to assess health risk where work is liable to expose employees to substances hazardous to health (Reg. 6)
  • Ensure exposure to substances hazardous to health is either prevented, or where not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled (Reg. 7)
  • Ensure any employee exposed to substances hazardous to health are monitored and under suitable health surveillance (Reg. 11)

How Much is My Claim Worth?

The value of the claim will solely be depending on the issues which are medically associated with your work exposure. We will instruct an appropriate expert with an expert field in respiratory medicine; it will be once a medical report has been produced that we will be able to properly assess the value of the claim.

The claims range for these types of cases can be from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

How Do I Make a Claim ?

If you have read the above and feel that you may be suffering from any of the symptoms whilst exposed to substances at work, call Oakwood Solicitors to speak to a member of our dedicated Industrial Disease team.

In order to run the majority of personal injury claims, you have to have started the claim within three years of the injury. However, with industrial disease claims it may be that the injury started over a period of time and was only diagnosed within the last three years. We will be able to clarify this for you.

Will I Lose My Job if I Make a Claim?

If you are still working for the Defendant, they cannot dismiss you for making or proposing to make a claim. If your employer does attempt to do so, you are likely able to make a successful unfair dismissal claim. In our experience, the majority of insurers understand their duties owed to you and the right you have to pursue a claim if this duty has been breached.

In most cases, the claim will normally be transferred from the Defendants directly to their insurers, and it will be the insurers who will deal with the Defending of the action.

How Long Will My Case Take?

The length of time for a case can vary, and can strongly depend on how Defendants and their insurers want to defend the action. It may take a considerable length of time to identify insurers for the Defendants if they are no longer trading, and the obtaining of evidence from experts in respiratory medicine (and potentially from health and safety experts or a chemical engineer) in regards to the exposure of chemicals can take a long time.

We will also need to obtain the full list of your past employers from the HMRC, which can also take some time to obtain. The case can take anywhere from 12 months, up to 3–4 years to reach a conclusion.



How Would My Case Be Funded?

Our cases are brought on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis. If we accept your claim, as long as terms of the agreement are complied with by yourself – namely that you do not mislead and you co-operate – there will be no charge to you in the event of the case failing.

If the case succeeds there will be a deduction to be made from the damages.


If you have any concerns about respiratory diseases caused by the working environment, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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