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COPD at Work

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There is a focus every November on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), with World COPD Day taking place on 17th November. COPD is a lifelong condition. This means that COPD at work can be an important aspect of your life if you suffer with the disease.

COPD is a major cause of disability and death; thousands of people die each year from work-related lung diseases and in many cases due to exposures that took place many years before. COPD describes a number of breathing problems where there is damage to the breathing tubes and air sacs within the lung.  Breathing in certain dusts, fumes, chemicals, or gases in the workplace can cause serious long term lung damage. People who have asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos, may develop COPD as a complication.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 21.9 million working days are lost due to COPD annually.

COPD at Work: What Your Employer Can Do

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 21.9 million working days are lost due to COPD annually. For employers, preventing dusts, fume and irritant gases from getting into the air is usually more effective, simpler, and cheaper, than controlling dust once it is in the air.

Employers can:

  • Use water for wet techniques including cutting, grinding, or blasting and for suppression on dusty roadways.
  • Buy dust-reduced materials. For example pellets, tablets, solutions or pastes, and use pre-weighed material in sealed bags. 
  • Segregate – put dusty machinery in a separate room or automate processes.
  • Carry out risk assessments
  • Reduce grinding and sawing and ensure all equipment is maintained to a high standard
  • Keep machines clean
  • Use effective Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)
  • Use respiratory protective equipment (RPE) when required

If your employer fails to do this, you may be able to make a COPD at work claim.

COPD at Work: What You Can Do

Other HSE safety advice states that, as an employee, make it part of your day to:

  • Vacuum clean – don’t use brushes or compressed air
  • Handle materials ‘gently’ – reduce the distance they fall or are thrown
  • Reduce machine speed or power.
  • Improve your work practices – don’t drop material
  • Avoid creating draughts.
  • Control waste – use closed bags or containers
  • Don’t let wet waste dry out and remove it frequently from your workplace.

COPD Outside of work

Outside of COPD at work, there is more guidance from the NHS on how to look after yourself if you have COPD. Some of the guidance includes taking prescribed medicine, including inhalers, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight, stop smoking if you do smoke, being careful of what you breathe, making sure you are prepared for cold weather, and having regular check-ups and reviews.

The breathing problems that arise with COPD tend to get gradually worse over time and can limit your normal activities, although treatment can help keep the condition under control. This is why it is important to do all you can to control the disease.

How We Can Help

Here at The Compensation Experts we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with personal injury and industrial disease claims. This includes work-related illnesses due to COPD at work. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138765 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable agents.