I read an article on the internet that informed me I may be able to claim occupational bronchitis compensation against my employer. My doctor has told me the use of chemicals at work such as ammonia may have caused my bronchitis. How can I tell if I am eligible to claim?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

It is correct that you can make a claim for occupational bronchitis compensation against an employer’s liability insurance policy; however only if you have suffered occupational bronchitis which has been caused by negligence of your employer. You must be able to prove that exposure to a lung irritant occurred in the workplace in a sufficient quantity to trigger a case of bronchitis, and that your condition is severe enough to warrant a claim for occupational bronchitis compensation. Occupational bronchitis compensation claims are also only possible if your employer has failed in a duty of care to you and your injury was caused as a direct result.

Your general state of health can make contracting the lung condition more likely, and you will also be more susceptible to bronchitis if you are, or have been, a smoker. Bronchitis has many causes and you must establish that it was caused in the workplace in order to claim occupational bronchitis compensation. If you are a smoker, claiming occupational bronchitis compensation will be particularly complicated.

Identifying the main cause of bronchitis may not always be possible; however provided that you can prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that you contracted occupational bronchitis due to the inhalation of ammonia or other chemical fumes at work, you stand a good chance of being able to successfully claim occupational bronchitis compensation.

In many cases, employers make choices on the best chemicals to use for a particular job without giving proper consideration to safer alternatives or to the environment in which they are used. An employer must perform a thorough risk assessment to determine whether potentially dangerous chemicals are required or if safer alternatives could do the job just as effectively. Often cost is a major factor in the choice of chemicals; however cost saving should never place the health of workers at risk. If inappropriate chemicals have been used, your employer may have been negligent and – if so -will have to pay for any occupational bronchitis compensation claims which result.

When chemicals are used in areas where there is poor ventilation, a build up of fumes is possible. If inadequate ventilation is present this needs to be addressed, breathing apparatus provided or alternative chemicals should be used. Failure to provide appropriate personal protective equipment is also employer negligence and will be grounds for making an occupational bronchitis compensation claim.

You should stand a good chance of making a successful claim for occupational bronchitis if it can be established and proven that on the ‘balance of probabilities’ you contracted occupational bronchitis due to exposure to a known cause of occupational bronchitis, and your employer did not do enough to protect you from inhalation of fumes. However you should speak with a personal injury solicitor about making a claim for occupational bronchitis in relation to your own personal circumstances due to the complicated nature of these claims.