Emphysema is a disease caused by damage to the lungs. The symptoms begin with breathlessness, fatigue and a persistent cough, and progresses to leave the sufferer reliant on oxygen supplies and therefore housebound.
Emphysema is most commonly caused by smoking, but it can also occur after prolonged exposure to dusty environments. Dust inhaled into the lungs makes it difficult for the sufferer to breathe, causing damage to the lungs and meaning they cannot absorb enough oxygen.
Dust at work
Many people working in the mining industry in the UK have developed emphysema as a result of the dusty working conditions. Health and safety regulations have now been implemented to ensure that employees are kept safe at work.
Regulations say that risk assessments should be carried out by an employer to determine whether a workplace is a dusty environment. If it is, workers should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a mask, to prevent them developing dust related diseases.
It is an employee’s duty to use any PPE that is provided by their employer. If an employer has provided you protective equipment that is not used, this may affect your claim for compensation.