A factory worker has received £32,000 compensation after he developed asthma when he was exposed to dangerous fumes for over three years.

The 49-year-old from Bolton was diagnosed with occupational asthma after he was exposed to a mix of hydraulic oil and coolant mist at Edbro Plc in Lancashire.

He complained about an oil leak with the machine he was working on for the HGV lorry parts manufacturer in November 2004 but nothing was done to fix it.

He later noticed mist was coming out of the machine and reported the problem on two further occasions. The machine wasn’t fixed until it broke down completely in August 2007.

Diagnosed with occupational asthma

The Unite member first started suffering from breathlessness in 2005 but wasn’t diagnosed with occupational asthma until March 2006 when he noticed his condition affecting life outside of work. 

However, he wasn’t assessed by his employer’s occupational health department until January 2009 when he was then moved to a job where he wasn’t exposed to fumes. 

He said: “It was obvious there was a problem with the machine we were working on but despite my complaints nothing was done about it. It never crossed my mind that we were being exposed to dangerous fumes and I put my chest problems down to having colds. 

“It wasn’t until I started struggling to walk upstairs and suffered a few attacks of breathlessness that I told my GP about my working conditions and he diagnosed me with occupational asthma. Even then my condition wasn’t assessed by occupational health until three years later.”

He has been told he will have to live with the condition the rest of his life but has been able to keep it under control so far with the use of inhalers.

Thompsons Solicitors made a claim for compensation

The member contacted Unite which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. Edbro admitted liability and settled the claim out of court. 

Paul Finegan, Unite Regional Secretary said: “This successful claim should send a clear message to employers about listening to their workforce on issues of health and safety. Edbro should have provided extraction or ventilation to avoid exposure to the mist caused by the oil leak.”

Imogen Wetton from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Employers should have measures in place to ensure workers are not exposed to the risk of developing occupational asthma or other work related diseases. Due to serious shortcomings in the employer’s procedures our client was exposed for more than three years and has suffered irreparable harm”