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Fentons settles fourth ‘isocyanate’ asthma case against same employer
A fourth claim in three years against the same plastics manufacturing firm has been settled by Fentons Solicitors LLP, after employees developed occupational asthma because they were exposed to the chemical, ‘isocyanate’.
John Gibney, a member of the specialist Industrial Disease team at Fentons, said that his client’s case was just the latest where an employee of the plastics firm had developed the condition, and said he fears that there may be even more workers who have been affected who have yet to come forward.
“This latest case, which we settled for £10,000, involved a PVC panel maker who has been affected by the isocyanate when a machine he was using had not been fitted with a fumes extractor,” said John (pictured right), a solicitor with Fentons’ Manchester office. “Even when the extraction unit was later fitted, his symptoms continued and it transpired that the extractor was inadequate and the filter inside was not cleaned on a regular basis as it should have been. Our client was also not provided with adequate respiratory protection.
“After he was moved to a different department his condition has improved, but his lungs are still not recovered from the exposure.”
John explained that whilst isocyanate was commonly used in industry, it could affect the lungs if precautionary measures such as filtering, appropriate respiratory protection and appropriate ventilation were not applied.
“My colleagues in the Industrial Disease team have dealt with a significant number of these cases from across the country in the last few years, but the fact that this is the fourth claimant to have been exposed at the same plastics manufacturing firm is clearly a cause for concern,” he said.
“All employers owe a duty of care to their workforce, but that is particularly important when dealing with chemicals that can so adversely affect a person’s ability to breathe. Thankfully my client’s symptoms subsided once he had moved to a different department, but people need to be more aware of the dangers of being exposed to such chemicals,” he said,
Occupational asthma is characterised by shortness of breath and wheezing, with around 90 per cent of victims suffering what is known as ‘hypersensitivity-induced’ asthma, the remaining 10 per cent suffering from ‘irritant-induced’ asthma or reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS).
“Regardless of the type of asthma, the symptoms are distressing and unpleasant for victims,” said John. “Chronic inflammation of the air passages causes a swelling and narrowing of the air passages, leading the victim to suffer breathlessness,” he said. “Symptoms vary depending on the level of exposure and type of asthma, but mainly they will include coughing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, wheezing and difficulty exercising.
“I would urge anyone who suffers these symptoms to make an appointment with their doctor immediately, and to also consider whether they might have been exposed to chemicals that could have triggered their condition.”
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