Industrial Disease Claims
Despite the UK industrial landscape historically undergoing change over the years former and even present employees continue to suffer illness as a result of direct, or even indirect, exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.
If your health has been affected by your work then you may be entitled to pursue an industrial disease claim. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health and safety of their employees. This means that an employer is normally liable to pay compensation when an employee suffers ill health as a consequence of their work.
The term industrial disease is fairly misleading because it is used to describe any work-related injury or illness that was not caused by an accident. It can include:
• Respiratory problems caused by exposure to asbestos, chemical or other toxic fumes/dusts
• Skin conditions such as dermatitis, skin cancer and psoriasis
• Finger problems caused by using vibrating tools (Vibration White Finger/Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome)
• Upper limb problems caused by strenuous gripping or repetitive wrist flexion or bending (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) or by regular repetitive and forceful movements involving the upper limbs (Tenosynovitis, De Quervains Tenosynovitis and Tendonitis – collectively known a Repetitive Strain Injuries).
With over 20 years’ experience representing injured workers in industrial disease claims, TRUE Solicitors LLP have the knowledge and expertise to deal with every type of work related injury claim.
We offer a ‘No win, No Fee’ service which gives our clients peace of mind.
For professional, friendly and confidential advice on industrial disease claims, contact us now on 0344 854 7000 for free, impartial advice. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit an enquiry via the form on our website, and we will contact you without delay to discuss your case.
Breathing in asbestos dust or fibres can lead to damage to your lungs and cause a range of associated diseases or conditions which include:
- Mesothelioma – Aggressive cancer of the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen
- Asbestosis – Inflammatory scarring of the lungs
- Asbestos- related lung cancer
- Pleural thickening – thickening of the lining of the lungs
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Even though the use of most types of asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1985, the number of people suffering asbestos related conditions has not decreased. There are two reasons for this; the first is that up until the 1980’s the use of asbestos was extraordinarily widespread. As a construction material asbestos was excellent because it was strong, resistant to heat and fire, and was also known to be good for sound insulation. These properties meant it was used as an ingredient in many construction materials such as cement, plaster and concrete, and in many different insulating materials such as boards, fabric, pipe lagging and loft insulation.
The second reason is because these conditions can have a long incubation period (known as the latency period), meaning the symptoms often don’t appear for up to 20 years.
This view is shared by the Health and Safety Executive who have stated that “Annual deaths increased steeply over the last 50 years, largely as a result of asbestos exposure prior to 1980, and are now expected to continue at current levels for the rest of the decade…”
The use of asbestos was not limited to heavy industry and factories. Such was its popularity that it is still likely to be found in almost all pre-1980 buildings (including schools and hospitals), in structures such as ships and oil rigs, and even in domestic houses.
Anyone who is exposed to asbestos dust and fibres could possibly develop an asbestos-related illness.
Asbestos-related claims are far from straightforward because there can be many different causes and you may have been exposed to asbestos by more than one employer. Furthermore, the long incubation period can make it difficult to locate previous employers particularly those who have ceased trading. This should not put anyone off from making an enquiry.
Occupational Asthma and Other Respiratory & Chest Conditions
There are many other respiratory and chest conditions caused by occupational exposure to hazardous or toxic substances or fumes, dust and other airborne particles, and these include:
- Occupational Asthma
- Nasopharyngeal Cancer (Wood Dust)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Lung Disease
Traditionally such conditions are associated the mining, shipbuilding and engineering industries but can also develop in people who have worked in chemical, woodworking, baking and textile industries. However, exposure to any form of toxic airborne within an occupational environment may result in the development of a compensable respiratory condition.
The majority of these conditions develop over many years and only show themselves long after exposure ceases and in most cases as a result of exposure with different employers, who may or may not have ceased trading.
The fact that any former employer has ceased trading should not prevent a successful compensation claim where negligent exposure can be established and the employers Employer’s Liability insurers can be located.
At TRUE Solicitors LLP, we have a wealth of experience pursuing asbestos-related and other respiratory disease compensation claims and can advise you and your family on all aspects of your claim.
Skin Conditions – Industrial Dermatitis
Numerous skin conditions can develop as a result of occupational exposure to hazardous or toxic substances such as dermatitis, skin cancer and psoriasis.
The most common work related skin condition is dermatitis which is usually sub-categorized as “irritant contact dermatitis” or “allergic contact dermatitis” and symptoms of these conditions include irritation of or rashes, blistering, cracking and soreness, redness, scaling or flaking of the skin usually of the hands and arms but sometimes affecting the face.
Irritant contact dermatitis usually occurs as a result of direct contact with the hazardous/toxic or “irritant” substance and allergic contact dermatitis usually occurs as a result of skin contact to certain allergens or substances whereby an allergic reaction occurs.
Under to Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (“COSHH”) Regulations all employers must take reasonable steps to avoid exposure to substances which are capable of causing injury (such substances being readily identifiable through their Safety Data Sheets) and where such exposure cannot be avoided such risk of exposure must be minimized by such steps as providing protective gloves or forearm gauntlets.
Vibration White Finger/Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Vibration White Finger (VWF), or as it is now known, Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is caused as a result of regular exposure to excessive levels of vibration transmitted via pneumatic tools through the hands.
Symptoms of HAVS include loss of feeling or sensation or pins and needles in the fingers, with blanching (whiteness or blueish colour) and occur as a result of injury to the blood vessels of the finger. The blood flow to the fingers is reduced as a result of the damage to these vessels. The symptoms usually occur in but are not limited to cold conditions and after prolonged exposure to vibrating tools the condition will accelerate whereby such “attacks” can last from 15 minutes to as long as an hour. Sensation in the fingers is lost and this can cause loss of manipulative dexterity and the ability to undertake fine work.
For many sufferers the symptoms can keep them awake at night.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) results from the compression of the median nerve where it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist which can lead to pain, numbness and pins and needles.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can result from prolonged work activities which require strenuous gripping or repeated flexion or bending of the wrist.
It is argued that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be caused as a result of excessive exposure to vibrating tools but there are differing schools of thought on that issue within the medical profession where no vibration “dose” relationship between vibration and CTS is known. Accordingly cases of CTS involving vibration alone are difficult to prove but will ultimately depend on the strength of medical evidence obtained and the work activities involved.
Repetitive Strain Injury
Repetitive Strain Injury is a term which is used to cover a multitude of different upper limb conditions or Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD) which develop over a period of time as a result of exposure to regular repeated and forceful movements of the upper limb (wrist, elbow or shoulder etc.) which causes strain on the soft tissue and tendons in the upper limb.
Such conditions include Tenosynovitis, De Quervains Tenosynovitis and Tendonitis and can result from repeated manual labour tasks, poorly designed work stations, excessive keyboard work.
Repetitive Strain Injury can also apply to back and neck pain which can develop over time as a result of strenuous activity in the workplace such as bending, crouching and stretching.
What can I claim compensation for if I have suffered due to industrial disease?
The compensation obtained for the industrial disease that you have contracted can be used to cover the costs such as:
• Loss of earnings
• Pain and suffering.
• Medical expenses such as, prescription charges and painkillers.
• Compensation for the care and support provided by family or friends.
• Reduced life expectancy.
• Ongoing illness.
• Recovery time.
• Expected lifestyle changes
How much will my industrial disease claim be worth?
The amount of compensation that you may receive is dependent upon the individual circumstances of your industrial disease case. The amount will depend on factors such as:
• The severity of your further health complications.
• How your life has been affected by your illness.
• Your future care and support needs.
• Financial losses, including how much money you have lost or will lose as a result of the industrial disease (e.g. loss of earnings, travel expenses).
Is there a time limit for making an industrial disease claim?
You have up to three years from the date in which the incident caused your illness or injury to make an industrial disease claim. It is also possible to make a claim if the exposure that caused the industrial disease occurred longer than three years ago, as long as you became aware of this or were diagnosed within the last three years.
All of our industrial disease claims are dealt with on a No Win, No Fee basis, and we offer a free, initial, no obligation assessment of your case.
“We obtained over £180,000 for a client making a claim on behalf of a deceased relative who contracted Mesothelioma, due to prolonged exposure to asbestos dust and fibres, whilst working in the shipyards for many years.”
“We obtained over £16,000 for a client who developed Occupational Asthma, after being exposed to significant quantities of plastic dust and fibres, whilst working as a Grinding Machine Operative.”
Submit Your claim – we will establish who was at fault and submit a claim on your behalf.
Gather the Evidence and Arrange Treatment – we will collect all of the evidence needed to prove your claim, arrange a medical examination for you, and if appropriate arrange treatment to assist with your recovery.
Win Your Claim – we will fight hard on your behalf to recover maximum compensation in the shortest time.
How long will my claim take?
The length of industrial disease claims depend on whether the other party admits fault, the severity of the injury or condition and the extent of the claim for losses and expenses. Straightforward industrial disease claims may settle within six to twelve months, whereas complex cases will usually take longer, perhaps a number of years.