School cook and flour dust


A 46-year-old school cook developed breathing problems after working with flour in the school kitchen. The room was small with poor ventilation.

Her breathing problems became so severe that she could hardly walk. She had to sleep sitting up.

Her daily job included dough making in a large mixer. There were no controls for the flour dust.

HSE investigation

The cook contacted her union, which supported her with a compensation claim on the basis that decent working conditions were not provided.

The council admitted that it had not taken sufficient action over the problem despite repeated complaints. HSE was not involved.


The cook became severely asthmatic. She had to retire early on health grounds, and the courts eventually awarded her £200,000 in damages.

But the money will not bring back her health. While she was able to move out of town, she rarely leaves the house. She faces a very restricted lifestyle.

The Your trade section of this site provides top tips and advice on how to protect yourself if you are a baker or work with flour.

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2021-07-19 ->