As far back as Roman times, the negative impact of inhaling flour dust has been documented in bakery workers. Now officially recognised as Baker’s Asthma, the condition continues to make up a large amount of industrial disease claims to this day. Solicitors frequently deal with bakers who are suffering from occupational asthma due to ineffective measures to protect them from the flour dust.
What is baker’s asthma?
Baker’s asthma is one of the most common types of occupational asthma. It is mainly caused by the inhalation of cereal flour, but wheat flour in particular. In 1700, the Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini was the first to notice respiratory symptoms among bakers that was caused by exposure to flour dust. Case reports were then later created at the beginning of the 20th century that fully established the concept of Baker’s Asthma. In the modern day, the British Medical Journal (bmj) has stated that the awareness of the condition means that scientifically based prevention is feasible and ‘baker’s asthma should not be regarded as an inevitable occurrence anymore.’ Occupational asthma also doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent condition – if you distance yourself from things which trigger your asthma then your condition might improve.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of baker’s asthma could include:
- Constricted chest movement
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing and coughing
- Asthma attacks
- Eye irritation
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
When a worker is continually exposed to cereal or wheat flour without the right protection, the lungs may dysfunction and mount a response to the harmless compounds. This is what ultimately leads to asthma.
What are your employer’s responsibilities?
Your employer is always legally obliged to provide all of their employees with a safe working environment. There are some risk factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing occupational asthma and should be addressed by your employer:
- No monitoring or breathing tests
- Lack of proper safety training
- Poor ventilation
- Inadequate equipment
- Failure to limit exposure to asthmagens
If you have been the victim of avoidable exposure to substances that have caused you to develop asthma, then you could be entitled to work related asthma compensation.
Other risks from baking as an occupation
In addition to being a dangerous risk to the lungs, a wheat allergy can also be a contact allergy resulting from occupational exposure. Symptoms of all forms of wheat allergy include:
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- Allergic rhinitis
- Abdominal cramps
- Anaphylactic shock
- Bloated stomach
- Chest pains
Anyone who has suffered any form of allergic reaction because of exposure to wheat or cereal flour can likely make a claim against their employer. With the help of industrial disease solicitors, this process can be straightforward and simple, as they can assist you with gathering all of the evidence that you will need for your case.