By Mark Clause. Last Updated 4th August 2022. Welcome to our guide on how to claim for injuries caused by exposure to hazardous substances. There are a number of substances that can cause injuries if not handled safely or sufficiently controlled. Injuries that result as a result of exposure to hazardous materials can happen in the workplace; however, they can also occur in other scenarios where you’re owed a duty of care.
Injuries can range from chemical burns to respiratory damage. They can depend on various factors.
For example, your injuries might differ depending on the substances you have come into contact with or whether you were supplied with quality personal protective equipment (PPE). You may have suffered psychological damage as a result, too. You can be compensated for this as well as any physical injuries.
Our panel of expert personal injury lawyers have handled many claims regarding injuries that are caused by exposure to hazardous substances due to someone else’s negligence when that party owed you a duty of care. If you have a valid claim, you could be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor to work on your claim.
Read on for more information. Our advisors are here and ready to answer any questions you may have. There are a few ways in which you can get in touch with us.
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us through our website
- Chat with us using the pop-up window in the corner
Select A Section
- What Is Exposure To Hazardous Substances
- Individuals, Authorities And Employers Duty Of Care
- How Should Hazardous Substances And Materials Be Controlled?
- Types Of Hazardous Substance
- How To Prove You Were Exposed To A Hazardous Substance Or Material
- Calculating Compensation For Exposure To Hazardous Substances
- Start Your No Win No Fee Exposure To Hazardous Substances Compensation Claim
- Related Articles
There are certain employment roles that will require the use, storage, and transportation of hazardous and harmful substances. Additionally, you may be exposed to hazardous substances as a member of the public. For example, certain cleaning agents can be dangerous if not handled or stored properly.
Some public places could be cleaned during the day when members of the public are nearby. This means there is a risk of them being exposed to these substances and suffering an injury.
However, the exposure and subsequent injury must be a result of negligence in order for you to claim. Furthermore, the negligent party must have owed you a duty of care. We will take a closer look at this duty of care later on in this guide.
What Are Substances Hazardous To Health?
Hazardous materials can have various different impacts on your health if you’re exposed to them. They can also cause different injuries based on how the exposure happened.
For example, if cleaning materials such as chlorine were to come in contact with your skin then you could suffer chemical burns. But even inhaling the fumes of some substances can be enough to cause injury to your lungs and respiratory system.
There are regulations called the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) that state the way in which substances such as these should be stored and handled. If these guidelines are not followed and you’re injured as a result, you may be able to claim.
There are certain scenarios in which you’re owed a duty of care. This means that someone has a responsibility to take all reasonably practicable steps to keep you safe. We will look at some of these below.
Employers’ Duty Of Care
Your employer’s duty of care is laid out in section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This means that they must take all reasonably practicable steps to make sure the risk to their employees is minimised as much as possible.
So, if exposure to hazardous substances is involved as part of your role in the workplace, your employer is responsible for supplying you with PPE and adequate training, amongst other things.
Exposure to a hazardous substance could occur as the result of a single accident at work, for example where a container is faulty and hazardous material leaks out as a result. However, it could also be caused by long-term exposure to small amounts of a substance.
If they fail to supply you with the correct PPE or store substances incorrectly, this could cause you to be injured. Similarly, you may be hurt if they fail to provide you with PPE or if the PPE that they give you is not fit for purpose.
Duty Of Care In Public Places
The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 states that the person in control of a public space is responsible for ensuring that it’s safe to be used for the intended purpose. This means that they need to maintain the space in a way that reduces the risk of accidental injury.
Public spaces could be parks or streets that are controlled by a local authority, for example. If injuries take place while shopping or in a restaurant, then the claim may be made against the relevant owner or another party in control of the space.
Controlling these materials can reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous substances that have the potential to cause injury. When the COSHH guidelines refer to control, they mention things like:
- Proper ventilation (this reduces the risk of inhaling fumes)
- Various procedures such as training, supervision, and assessments
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, visors and ventilation masks
- Clean-up procedures to deal with spillages
Some of the main pieces of guidance state to:
- Restrict access to the storage area
- Make sure the storage area is well lit, big enough, well organised, and has sufficient ventilation
- Control possible sources of ignition or eliminate the source altogether
- Ensure the floor of the area doesn’t allow the chemicals being stored there to pass through
All substances considered hazardous should be handled with care, and only used for their intended purpose. Only those who have received relevant training should handle them.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH) is a piece of legislation that states how employers should manage risks to employees caused by hazardous substances. If this has been breached and you were injured as a result, then you could be entitled to claim hazardous substances compensation.
Substances that are hazardous to health could include:
- Gases, including asphyxiating gases
Lead, asbestos and radioactive substances are not covered by this piece of legislation. This is because there are other regulations that cover the control of these substances.
Some of the requirements of COSHH include:
- Providing control measures to reduce harm, and making sure they are used
- Keeping control measures well-maintained
- Having a plan in place for emergency situations
Failure to adhere to COSHH could result in injuries which, in turn, could lead to hazardous substance compensation claims.
Types Of Hazardous Substance
In this section, we will give you some examples of substances that can be considered hazardous. Hazardous substances include, but are not limited to:
- Arsenic – can lead to poisoning of the skin and nervous system.
- Chlorine – causes chemical burns.
- Chromium – can affect the blood and, ultimately, various organs such as the liver.
- Dioxin – a byproduct of some industrial processes that can cause cancer amongst other ailments.
- Mercury – breathing in mercury can damage the lining of the lungs. Ingesting mercury can cause stomach ulcers and damage the intestines and nervous system.
- Carbon monoxide – this can be a byproduct of burning certain fuels such as oil and gas. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include dizziness, nausea, and issues with breathing. In some cases, it can be fatal.
- Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) – These are a group of manmade chemicals used in industrial electrical devices and can cause cancer.
- Lead – Lead poisoning is often cumulative. In adults, it can take the form of nausea and abdominal pains, including other symptoms. It can also lead to miscarriages. In children is can cause serious developmental issues in addition to physical symptoms.
- Radiation – can be especially prevalent if you work with nuclear energy. There can be many symptoms of radiation poisoning such as weakness, fever, nausea, and hair loss.
For more information on claiming for harm caused by exposure to hazardous substances, speak with one of our advisors today.
In order to build a strong claim for compensation after being injured by a hazardous substance, you will need to provide evidence that a breach of duty of care led to your injuries.
Some forms of evidence that can be very useful during your claim include:
- CCTV footage – there could be video evidence of the unsafe conditions that lead to your injury. You have the legal right to request CCTV footage that you appear in.
- Statements from witnesses/other colleagues – you cannot take a witness statement yourself. However, you can collect details so that a statement can be taken at a later date.
- Medical reports – it’s really important that you seek medical attention after exposure to hazardous substances. This will allow you the best chance of making a recovery. the medical records from this could also be used to support your claim.
For more examples of evidence that could be used to strengthen personal injury claims, get in touch with us today.
The sum that is calculated to compensate you for your physical and mental injuries is known as general damages. This amount is calculated by legal professionals with the assistance of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). These guidelines are made up of various injuries alongside guideline compensation brackets.
As part of your claim, you’ll be invited to attend a medical appointment with an independent expert. This expert will assess your injuries and compile their findings in a report. This report will be referred to when your claim is being valued.
We have included a table below that contains some example figures from the latest edition of the JCG. This should give you more of an idea of what your injuries could possibly be worth.
|(a) Dermatitis to both hands. Soreness and cracked skin that affect employment and capability at home. Potentially permanent.
|£13,740 to £19,200
|(b) Dermatitis for a significant period to either or hand or both. Settles with treatment or the use of gloves for certain tasks.
|£8,640 to £11,410
|(c) Irritation, itchy skin, rashes on one or both hands. Resolved after a few months of treatment.
|£1,710 to £3,950
|(b) (i) Acute pain, diarrhoea, pain, fever. Hospital admission is required for a days/weeks
|£38,430 to £52,500
|(b) (ii) Serious symptoms, but short-lived (around 2-4 weeks)
|£9,540 to £19,200
|(c) One kidney completely lost but the other remains undamaged
|£30,770 to £44,880
|A (e) When toxic fumes are inhaled and some lasting damage occurs, but not serious
|£5,320 to £12,590
|Post-traumatic stress disorder
|(B) (c) Moderate – you will have largely made a recovery and if there is any lasting damage, it will not be grossly disabled
|£8,180 to £23,150
|(d) Less severe – will take into account to what extent daily activities such as sleeping are affected
|£1,540 to £5,860
|When you think you may die or have your lifespan shortened by your injuries
In addition to general damages, you could also have a sum known as special damages included in your final settlement amount. This figure is made up of costs that arise as a direct result of your injuries. For example, you may be unable to work as a result and experience a loss of earnings. You may also have things like prescription costs to cover.
You must have proof of these expenses to stand a chance of claiming them back. Paychecks and receipts are good examples of this.
For more examples of special damages payments, get in touch with one of our friendly advisors today. You could be connected with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel to work on your claim; we explain what this means in more detail below.
All of the lawyers on our panel with their clients on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you won’t be obligated to pay their costs if your claim is unsuccessful. You also won’t be expected to make an upfront payment to secure their services.
You will only have to pay them if you receive compensation. This “success fee” will be deducted as a percentage of your settlement amount.
However, there is a legal cap on the percentage that can be deducted. Therefore, the majority of your compensation will always be protected.
To see if you could make a No Win No Fee claim with us today, get in touch. One of our friendly and helpful advisors could assess your claim and, if it’s valid, connect you with a solicitor from our panel.
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us through our website
- Chat with us using the pop-up window in the corner
We’ve included some additional information in this section so you can read further on this, and related subjects.
- How to claim compensation for a chemical burn at work.
- An example case study regarding compensation for chemical burns to the scalp.
- Claiming for injuries caused by a chemical foot peel.
- NHS information on acid and chemical burns.
- Another NHS guide regarding poisoning.
- COSHH essentials – more advice.
Thank you for reading our guide on claiming for injuries caused by exposure to hazardous substances.
Article by AI