Issue date
09 Aug 2013

An office worker has developed occupational asthma after being exposed to fungal spores at his place of work. UNISON member David Livingstone, 62, was working as a substance misuse specialist for Addiction Dependency Solutions Ltd, a regional charity specialising in drug and alcohol services, at a 400-year-old building in Kendal when he became ill. In October 2008, fungus developed on the building's damp exterior wall less than 2ft away from his desk. Despite making his concerns about daily exposure to mould spores known to his employer, the fungus was neither removed nor even investigated. Within two months David developed an aggressive cough and a wheezy chest. The symptoms worsened over time leaving him unable to work for a month. While his colleagues also developed similar symptoms, David's proximity to the mould meant his condition was more severe. He returned to work in early 2009 and his health again began to deteriorate but it wasn't until March 2009 - five months after it had appeared - that his employers instructed builders to investigate the mould. The problem was identified as a leaking soil pipe within the external wall as well as general damp throughout the building's stonework. An extensive six months renovation was required. David, who was diagnosed with occupational asthma, still needs to take two asthma inhalers on a daily basis. He has now received £12,000 in a union-backed compensation settlement. Kevan Nelson from UNISON said: 'The mould spores on the wall was talked about openly in the workplace and regularly raised as a health issue to the management, yet David's employers failed to resolve the issue for five months. It shows a dangerous disregard for his wellbeing and that of his colleagues.'