Find out how to claim for occupational asthma caused from working in a metal works being exposed to chrome oxide dust and Kemet fumes. Solicitor explains how to prove liability, how to claim despite exposure taking place many years earlier and metal works former employer no longer being in business.
Metal Works Worker Asthma Compensation Question
I worked for 15 years for an employer working with metals ending in 2005. I believe a few years after I left the company went out of business.
The employer used several large abrasive metal cutting machines known as a Kemet machines, which produced a large amount of fumes.
The factory also used chrome oxide dust as a coolant leading to dust in the air.
The combined effect was a workplace having metal dust and fumes in the air.
We were not required to wear breathing masks and many times masks were not available in any event.
The factory had poor ventilation and no proper extractor machines.
I have recently developed breathing problems and was sent by my GP to see a specialist. I was diagnosed with asthma last month.
When the specialist realised I have never smoked – I was asked about my past work.
The specialist confirmed the asthma is occupational – likely caused by the Kemet fumes and chrome oxide dusts.
Will I be able to make a claim for compensation for my asthma, will the fact that I finished work in 2005 and the company went out of business affect my ability to claim?
Industrial Lung Disease Solicitor Response
Looking at each of your questions in turn:
Proving liability for an asthma claim from chrome oxide dust and Kemet fume inhalation
Metal works dusts and fumes are known to be a cause of occupational asthma. Chrome Oxide and Kemet fumes are two such air borne particulates which should be avoided.
An employer is under a duty to eliminate or reduce the dusts and fumes from the machinery and the processing of the metals. The factory should have proper extraction and proper ventilation.
In addition – when being exposed to potentially damaging dusts and fumes, workers should be provided with proper breathing protection at all times and should be trained that it is a requirement to use the protection. Factory floor notices in designated areas are often helpful reminders.
Supervisors and managers should be trained to enforce the use of breathing protection.
From your description – it therefore seems your former employer will be found at fault for your hazardous exposure and as a result your asthma condition.
Time period to make a claim for industrial asthma
The time period to make your claim does not necessarily run from your date of exposure. Many industrial lung diseases often do not result in symptoms until many years after exposure has finished.
You ceased work for the company in 2005 – but your symptoms only commenced recently and your diagnosis occurred only last month.
As a general rule you have three years from date of injury or knowledge of injury to make a claim. Date of diagnosis is often the latest date that knowledge of injury can be argued.
It could be that knowledge could be construed as being earlier – but from your description it seems that this year is arguably the date that knowledge occurred.
It therefore seems that you are potentially within time to make your claim for occupational asthma.
Effect of an employer no longer trading on your potential claim
Many industrial injuries involve a company that has gone out of business or has been taken over by another company.
If a company is taken over – the new company will take the liability for the former company.
Alternatively – if the metal works employer went out of business altogether with no take over company – your former employer’s liability insurer can be traced. That insurer would still have liability for your claim.
All employers are required by law to have employer’s liability insurance in place, so it is very rare that a former insurer cannot be found.
Thus, the fact that the metal works is no longer trading should not stop a successful claim from being made.