Why are Bakers at Such High Risk of Work-Related Asthma?

Posted on: 2 mins read
Simon Rosser

Personal Injury & Disease Litigation Solicitor

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Bakers are regularly exposed to irritants that can cause asthma, such as wheat flour, rye flour and dust, if they’re inhaled.

Flour dust and enzymes containing additives such as amylase can sometimes trigger an allergic response, so it’s important for employers to prevent exposure where possible.

This could include keeping premises properly ventilated and equipping staff with masks and other protective equipment.

But unfortunately, the inhalation of these irritants is so common that it’s come to be known as Baker’s Asthma, and it’s one of the most well-known work-related illnesses.

If you’ve developed Baker’s Asthma and believe it’s because your employer didn’t do enough to keep you safe, you may have grounds to claim compensation.

Call our specialist Industrial Disease Solicitors for a free claims assessment, and we’ll be happy to speak with you. We can discuss how we can help you and let you know straight away if your claim has a good chance of success.

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How Do You Know if You Have Baker’s Asthma?

As with most diseases, there are a range of symptoms associated with Baker’s Asthma, including:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Restricted chest movement

When you first start to develop these symptoms, they might only affect you while you’re working around flour and immediately afterwards.

But if you continue to be exposed to the flour, the symptoms may become constant and debilitating, even without recent exposure.

Some early symptoms of Baker’s Asthma which might indicate you’ve been exposed to flour include:

        • Dermatitis - sore and red skin
        • Conjunctivitis - inflammation and irritation of the eyes
        • Rhinitis - inflammation and irritation of the inside of the nose
        • Sneezing

These symptoms might be an early warning sign that your body is having a reaction to the flour you’ve been exposed to at work.

The eyes, skin and nose usually become affected before the flour starts to affect your lungs and airways.

If you’ve suffered from any of these symptoms within the last 3 years, you might have occupational asthma and may well be entitled to compensation.

If so, please contact our specialist Industrial Disease Team for a free claims assessment and we can discuss the matter further. Ask us if we can help you on a No Win, No Fee basis.

How Common is Asthma Among Bakers?

It’s a fact that bakers and flour confectioners take the top spot when it comes to work-related asthma.

According to a study by Extraction Solutions, the number of asthma cases among bakers is 83.1 times what you’d expect to see in other occupations.

The study also ranked baking as the most dangerous occupation in the UK, which highlights the urgent need for employers to put staff safety first.

An Answer to Bakery Exposure?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently reported on a large bakery that switched from using normal flour to low-dust flour for dusting.

Since making the change, staff have no longer had to wear respiratory protective equipment on site, and they feel more comfortable and better able to communicate.

But the biggest benefit has been a significant reduction in the risk of breathing in flour dust and developing Baker’s Asthma.

The HSE pointed out that while protective equipment does offer protection, it’s “generally uncomfortable and used as a last resort”.

But making this change in production methods has meant staff no longer have to wear protective equipment, and has brought with it cost savings for the business.

It’s creative solutions such as this, along with a clear focus on the health and safety of employees, that can reduce the number of cases of Baker’s Asthma and make it a much safer occupation in the future.

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