Tobacco smoke entering work space

Hi all,

I've been an asthmatic most of my life. During the last 15 years I've been taking my preventer every day (Seretide) and very rarely used my blue Ventolin as its been under control.

Where I work I've been complaining for almost 10 years about cigarette smoke being blown into my face from the ventilation system. The smoke appears to be drawn in from a smoking shelter nearby.

I've now become sensitised to the smoke and every time I smell it have to use my blue Ventolin to relive that tightness and feeling of liquid filling up in my lungs.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar to this?

I am taking various actions (which may result in me losing my job as I am probably really annoying my bosses) so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

5 Replies

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  • Hi if your employers know or should reasonably be expected to know that you have a health condition, then under the Health and Safety at Work Act they have a legal duty towards you whilst at work. This would include dealing with any workplace issues which you have such as this.

    Have they sent you to occupational health yet? If not then ask them to do this and tell them the situation. They should also be making some 'reasonable adjustments' for you such as being able to take a break when needed, or allow extra sick leave. Bear in mind though that all RA's are subject to 'business needs'.

    Are you in a union? Do you have any help with this? Also google ACAS as they might be able to help.

  • Hi, thank you for your advice.

    I have been to see an occupational doctor and they have written to my company saying that they should stop blowing smoke into my working area asap.

    I understand you saying 'reasonable adjustments' should be made, but what is considered reasonable in this case?

    If cigarette smoke is coming into my workplace, isn't it going to affect everyone in the vicinity? Whether smoker/non smoker asthmatic/non asthmatic people should not be breathing second hand smoke due to its toxins.

    Isn't it also a possibility non asthmatics may go on to develop occupational asthma as a result?

    It's difficult to take a break given the unpredictable occurrence of smoke possibly triggering an asthma attack.

    No one else is also trained to do my job so if I take excessive time off the work it piles up like a conveyor belt.

    Unfortunately I'm not a member of a union which means they won't lift a finger to help me if I ask. I'm also sure their conditions say they can't help with an issue that exists before joining. We do have a union at work that represents most of the staff where I work and I'm sure they are probably aware of the issue. I can't help but think their attitude reminds me of the good Samaritan story, not our class (member) so walk on by.

  • Well after trying everything in the book to try and stop this happening I finally went to the HSE to see if they could help. The HSE told me that it was the local authority (LA) that should deal with this, nit them. I contacted the LA and they have badically said they don't have enough staff to deal with this and other problems will have priority. So i will go on suffering at work unless i manage to find another job (been trying for over 2 years). What a fantastic country we live in, I can't help but think our health protection rights are lower here than the rest of Europe!

  • Scandalous!

  • Update - persevered to press the LA, LA has now forced my company to shut down the smoking shelter and wow what a difference to the quality of air in my work space!

    Still got my job, hopefully will keep it, asthma improving.

    I hope if any one ever is faced with the same problem as me this post will help them. If you do ever contact the HSE or LA you have a right to remain anonymous - & good luck!

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