Member compensated after developing industrial disease

A member of Unite the union has been awarded a £50,000 settlement for occupational asthma.

The member, who is 50, was diagnosed with the condition by his GP after suffering breathlessness and pains in his chest. His occupational asthma developed as a result of exposure to chemicals that were in a paint he used regularly.

“I was exposed to the harmful paint fumes almost every day for more than 20 years,” the member said. “In a way, I’m surprised it took so long for the illness to develop but I guess it was really just a matter of time.”

After he was diagnosed with occupational asthma, the member took time off work and was later laid off. The Unite member still suffers pain in his chest and breathing problems.

The member got in touch with Unite Legal Services to support with a claim for compensation. It was found that the company rarely organised respiratory tests for shop floor staff, and ventilation in the factory was poor.

He added: “I think it’s important that workers know this type of mistreatment isn’t acceptable. This is why I was happy to turn to Unite Legal Services for legal help and guidance. What it did was exemplary.”

“Occupational asthma is a long-term and, in some cases, severe condition that is the consequence of failures by an employer to protect their workforce,” explained Stuart Davies, Unite Regional Legal Officer in the South West.

“Our member’s employer seemed indifferent to protecting his health, allowing him to work unprotected in a poorly ventilated area and failing to organise the respiratory tests.

“A few small tweaks to the firm’s health and safety policy would have made a world of difference for our member. But they ignored all decent, let alone legal duties and, as a result, he’s been left with a life-long industrial disease.”