factory worker has received £20,000 compensation after she developed asthma within weeks of being exposed to dangerous fumes.

The 42-year-old from the Gateshead area was diagnosed with occupational asthma after she was exposed to soldering fumes at Turbo Power Systems Limited, based in Team Valley.

She started working for the company, which makes electric generators and motors for the aerospace industry, in June 2007, where she spent up to six hours a day soldering.

Exposed to rosin-based soldering wire

She worked with rosin-based soldering wire, which is known to cause occupational asthma, but was never given any training or warning about the dangers.

She was soldering in an enclosed space with inadequate extraction and within a few weeks began to suffer from difficulty breathing.

She was diagnosed with occupational asthma which she has been told she will have to live with the rest of her life.

Thompsons Solicitors made Industrial Disease Claim

Following her diagnosis she instructed industrial disease claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors for advice. Thompsons pursued the claim against Turbo Power Systems who, after court proceedings, admitted liability and agreed to pay £20,000 compensation plus legal costs.

The company was also fined £3,000 after the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) brought a prosecution for unlawfully exposing employees to soldering flux fumes.

The client, who had worked for more than 20 years in various factories, was later made redundant and has since been unable to find alternative employment.

She said: “Within a few weeks of starting work at Turbo Power Systems I started to have problems with my breathing. I had a terrible dry cough, a shortness of breath, a wheeze on my chest and dry itchy eyes. Since being made redundant the symptoms have slowly improved because I am not breathing in the fumes any more. The doctors told me I will have asthma the rest of my life which means I am now restricted in the type of jobs I can do. I have worked in manufacturing all of my life so I am now having to retrain.”

Rosin-based solder flux fumes are a well known cause of occupational asthma

Tony Hood from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Rosin-based solder flux fumes are a well known cause of occupational asthma. Employers should have rigorous measures in place to ensure workers are not exposed to the risk of developing occupational asthma or other work related diseases. Our client was put at risk unnecessarily and has suffered irreparable harm due to the serious shortcomings in the employer’s procedures. This successful claim and the HSE prosecution should send as a clear message to employers about the importance of complying with their legal duties in relation to workplace health and safety.”