A law firm has predicted a rise in claims for ‘new’ conditions such as ‘BlackBerry thumb’ and ‘popcorn lungs’. Roberts Jackson Solicitors said increased awareness of conditions such as these could see a rise in compensation claims against employers.

‘BlackBerry thumb’ is a type of RSI caused by over-use of a mobile phone such as a BlackBerry, which many employees are increasingly using for work on the move.

Another disease, which the firm says is growing, is known as bronchiolitis obliterans or ‘popcorn lungs’. It can affect those working in popcorn factories or who are exposed to significant amounts of popcorn on a long-term basis. The popcorn contains diacetyl, a chemical used to produce the butter-like flavouring, and over-exposure can cause lung damage.

Karen Jackson, Partner and co-founder of Roberts Jackson, told the Manchester Evening News: “If no one knows about the risks involved, they won’t sue, but more and more people are becoming aware of health hazards in the workplace.”

She added:A lot of people displaying symptoms associated with RSI do not realise they are work-related, but the number with symptoms is increasing.”

Jackson highlighted a recent case in America where workers in a popcorn factory had successfully sued their employer for failing to provide protective equipment such as masks.

She said the firm also expected more litigation in the hairdressing sector relating to preventable skin conditions.