What Are Occupational Chest Conditions?

by Beecham Peacock Solicitors on October 30, 2019

Work related or ‘occupational’ chest conditions are diseases that develop as a result of exposure to certain irritants in the workplace. These conditions are more likely to develop in some occupations than others, such as factory work or a garage. They can worsen over time if they are not immediately diagnosed and treated, so it’s important to visit your doctor if you begin to experience problems with your chest. They can also be exacerbated if you have existing chest or breathing problems, or if you are a smoker.

These conditions are usually caused by work environments where you are exposed to dangerous chemicals or certain types of dust. Common industries where people experience work related chest conditions are flour, wood, chemical, paint, rubber and plastics. These materials can all omit dust or substances that can be harmful to the lungs. Over months or years of working in these environments, these substances can have a gradual effect on the respiratory system and eventually cause a disease in the lungs.

There are several different occupational chest conditions that you could develop in your workplace. Below we have listed a few examples, how they can develop, and how to look out for the symptoms.


Asthma is swelling of the breathing tubes, and it can lead to chest problems. Symptoms can include coughing, wheezing and a tight chest. Some people have asthma from a young age but around one in ten cases of adult onset asthma are caused by the person’s workplace or occupation. Work related asthma is more likely to develop if you already suffer from allergies and can cause the asthma to re-trigger over the course of your time working in that environment.


Emphysema is damage to the breathing tubes and air sacs in the lungs. The main symptom is shortness of breath during strenuous activity or exercise. Over time as the condition worsens, this can increase to shortness of breath whilst standing still or sitting or lying down. Emphysema can be caused by a workplace environment where you would breathe fumes from harmful chemicals, or dust from grain or wood products.

Chronic Bronchitis

Together with Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis forms Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a very serious lung disease. Chronic Bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes. It usually manifests as a wheezy cough, but symptoms can also include headaches and tiredness. Prolonged exposure to strong acids like ammonia or chlorine is one of the main causes of Chronic Bronchitis.


Rhinitis has symptoms very similar to that of the common cold: sneezing or an itchy or runny nose. It can present as a reaction to an allergen, but it can also be because of exposure to irritants. Rhinitis can be a difficult condition to diagnose, as it can often present very similarly to hay fever. So, it’s important if you work with irritants to be aware of its symptoms and possible causes.

Pulmonary Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is caused by inhaling mould, and is also sometimes known as ‘farmer’s lung’. Exposure to a fungus can cause an abscess to grow in the lung cavity and cause very serious health problems. It is usually more common if you already have one of the above chest conditions, as the lungs and respiratory system would already be weakened. It’s very important to keep an eye out for the symptoms of aspergillosis (cough, wheezing and high temperature) as it can develop quite severely and occasionally requires surgery to treat it.

Why should you speak to a solicitor?

If any of these conditions sound familiar to you, and you work in an environment with irritants, it could be that you have a work related chest condition. It’s important that you speak to a solicitor to advise you how to go about speaking to your employers in an appropriate manner. A solicitor would be able to help you navigate a personal injury claim to make sure you get back any financial compensation you deserve.

What can Beecham Peacock do to help?

Beecham Peacock have a team of expert personal injury lawyers with years of experience in dealing with cases involving work related chest conditions. Beecham Peacock are based in the North East – an area which has a strong presence of heavy industry. People who work in heavy industry are the most likely people to develop occupational chest conditions, so Beecham Peacock are well-versed in helping to fight for these claims.

Can you make a personal injury claim?

If you speak to Beecham Peacock about your work related chest condition, one of the things they might suggest is to make a personal injury compensation claim. Obviously money can’t give you back your health, but financial compensation can make up for any monetary losses that might have occurred because of your condition. If your condition has worsened to the point where you’ve had to miss work, you may have been made to take unpaid sick days. Also, any prescriptions you may have had to collect, including inhalers, could have incurred a significant cost.  You shouldn’t have to take a financial hit for a condition that has been caused by your work place, therefore was out of your control.

What’s the next step?

If you think you may have a work related chest condition, your next step should be to see a doctor and have your diagnosis confirmed. Once you have a diagnosis your next move should be to see a solicitor to discuss your options. If you’re short on spare time, Beecham Peacock have an online enquiry system so you can briefly outline your issue, and someone will get back to you with more information and to potentially make an appointment to see a lawyer.

Beecham Peacock Solicitors
If you have suffered any type of personal injury at work including work related stress, or have contracted an occupational disease such as Mesothelioma or Dermatitis, Beecham Peacock’s team of personal injury claims experts can help.
Beecham Peacock Solicitors

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