Companies that handle asbestos materials which are not compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, face prosecution and significant pay-outs to workers that develop related illnesses. Additionally, high-risk asbestos work requires licensing and or notification to the appropriate enforcement authorities. For these reasons, it is crucial to undertake a professional risk assessment before a job that involves tackling asbestos.
When the fibres contained within asbestos are breathed in, they cause detrimental lung damage called asbestosis, amongst other serious potential health conditions. Sufferers are entitled to compensation, however they will suffer difficulty breathing as a primary symptom.
The following guide by leading UK Health and Safety assessment specialist Lighthouse Risk Services offers a helpful overview of the treatments available to improve the quality of life for sufferers of asbestos related illnesses such as asbestosis.
Help with Quitting Cigarettes
Smoking is obviously one of the worst things you can do if you have weak lungs, much less a serious condition such as asbestosis. It is guaranteed to make your breathing difficulties worse at the very least. However if smoking has been a lifetime habit, it can be highly difficult to quit, which is why there is NHS sponsored help at hand. Your GP will be able to advise you on a number of methods designed to make it easier to quit – these include local support groups, prescription medicines like bupropion and nicotine replacement therapies. You can also get advice by simply ringing the NHS Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044.
Medicine to Alleviate Pain
Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for asbestosis. There are medicines available however which can help ease severe symptoms – small doses of morphine for example will help by suppressing the urge to cough constantly and reducing the feeling of breathlessness.
Oxygen to Improve Breathing
Asbestosis acts to prevent your body from getting all the oxygen it needs to function healthily, so oxygen replacement therapy will help with this and also allow patients to breathe more easily. This therapy involves a painless machine called an oxygen concentrator. When plugged into a mains socket, it purifies oxygen from the air and delivery a rich supply through a mask which contains a small soft plastic tube which is placed at the entrance to your nostrils.
Oxygen therapy can also come in the form of a small, portable oxygen tank with a mask to inhale when you are out of the home. This is called ambulatory oxygen.
Immune System Boost
Since asbestosis makes the lungs more vulnerable to infection, you can ask your doctor for an annual vaccination against influenza. Additionally, a vaccination against the pneumococcus bacterium which causes conditions such as pneumonia can be provided and it generally only needs to be administered once, although if your health is very poor you can request extra vaccination.
The treatments listed in this guide are effective at easing the main symptoms of asbestosis, namely shortness of breath and persistent coughing. Lighthouse Risk Services also advises that patients diagnosed with asbestosis hire a legal specialist as they will be legally entitled to financial compensation. Last but not least, if you or anyone you know is working for a company that handles asbestos materials, be sure the business is fully compliant with safety regulations through a professional risk assessment service.