Lung/chest disease in the workplace

Anyone working in an environment where substantial amounts of airborne dust particles are present – such as the building trade and heavy industry – may be prone to suffer from chest problems or lung disease. Pneumoconiosis refers to a group of lung diseases which result from the inhalation and retention of dust in the lungs. It is a prescribed industrial disease and financial compensation may be available for employees whose illness is likely due to occupational exposure.

Currently the most common type of pneumoconiosis is asbestosis which results in 5,000 deaths each year in the UK. It is a chronic inflammatory disease which is caused by the inhalation and retention of asbestos in the lungs and leads to reduced lung function, respiratory failure and an increased risk of lung cancers such as mesothelioma. People who worked in mining and construction before asbestos was known to be dangerous are most likely to be affected.

Other occupational lung diseases and industry prevalence

Coal miners

Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP), sometimes known as black lung disease, tends to affect miners who have been exposed to dust from coal, graphite or manmade carbon over a period of years.

Mining, sandblasting, quarry, ceramics and foundry workers

Silicosis, also known as ‘potter’s rot’ affects workers who have been exposed to high levels of silica, a substance naturally found in certain types of stone, rock, sand and clay. It leads to hardened and scarred lung tissue and consequent respiratory problems.

Metal grinding and welding

Pulmonary siderosis, also known as Welder’s Lung, results from the inhalation of iron particles and tends to affect those employed within the metalworking industry. It is normally benign but can sometimes cause breathing problems and other respiratory symptoms.

Aerospace, nuclear, telecommunications, semi-conductor and electrical workers

Berylliosis is a relatively rare industrial disease that is caused by exposure to beryllium and its compounds. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a cough, chest pain, joint aches, fever and possible weight loss.

Compensation for occupational lung disease

The industrial disease team at CH Legal regularly advises employees suffering from work-related lung conditions who are seeking compensation. To find out how we can help, get in touch with Julie Smith or call 0845 4786 354.