A printer who developed asthma when he was exposed to dangerous fumes in the workplace has received compensation after help from his trade union.

Jason MaCann, 35, from Rushden in Northamptonshire was diagnosed with the condition after he was exposed to isocyanates used in laminating machines at FFP Packaging in Northampton.

Mr MaCann had only been working for the company as an assistant printer for a few months when he began to develop breathlessness.

At first he thought he was suffering from a chest infection but later he collapsed at work and paramedics had to put him on a nebulizer to control his breathing.

He had to take four weeks off work to recover.

Asthma caused by chemicals

It was found he was suffering from occupational asthma caused by the chemicals being used in the factory’s laminating machines.

Whilst Mr MaCann didn’t actually work on the machines he was in close proximity to them and was never provided with protective equipment from the fumes nor provided with any training in using chemicals.

His trade union Unite, instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation. Thompsons also found that the print room wasn’t adequately ventilated.

FFP did not admit liability but settled the claim out of court for £5,000.

Exposure to dangerous chemicals caused lifelong condition

Mr MaCann, who was later made redundant from the firm and now works for a company which uses water-based print products, still suffers from asthma and relies on two inhalers to keep his breathing under control.

He said: “Before I started working for FFP I didn’t have any breathing problems. At first I thought it was just a chest infection but I began to notice that I was worse at work. I would suffer coughing fits in the night and would struggle to get my breath.

“I now have two inhalers which I’ve been told I’m likely to need the rest of my life. Fortunately I’ve been able to find a job where my asthma isn’t affected but I do worry about my employability in the future.”

Adrian Axtell regional secretary at Unite added: “Asthma can be a debilitating condition which at times can have a severe impact on the sufferer’s life. FFP should have had rigorous measures in place to make sure the print room was adequately ventilated and that all staff were provided with training and the correct protective equipment such as face masks to keep them safe.”

Steve Fitzwalter from Thompsons Solicitors added: “FFP had serious shortcomings in its health and safety procedures which meant our client was exposed to dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. He has developed a lifelong condition which must be controlled by medication. Health and safety rules are there for a reason and had this employer followed them Mr MaCann would not be suffering from this condition.”