Exposure to hazardous materials is the 6th highest cause for people taking sick leave from work in 2020. During this year, exposure to harmful substances or environments was the reason for over 424,000 nonfatal injuries.
If you’ve been exposed to hazardous substances at your workplace, or out in a public venue, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries. At GSR Solicitors, we’re personal injury experts here to support you with your injury claim.
Control of Hazardous Substances
There are plenty of hazardous substances people get exposed to, either in public or at work. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) states what substances are hazardous, and how people should store and use them.
If the directions are not correctly followed, you could experience an injury. If that happens, you may be able to claim compensation providing someone was negligent.
Examples of Injuries Caused by Hazardous Substances
Here are a few examples of some of the most common injuries people sustain after being exposed to hazardous materials:
- Radiation sickness
- Inhalation of toxic fumes
- Legionnaires disease
- Lead poisoning
- Chemical burns
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Exposure to asbestos
- Air pollution
- Pesticide poisoning
Duty of Care in Public Spaces and at Work
Whether you’re at work or in a public space, there is a duty of care to ensure you don’t have an accident in that area. If you have been exposed to a hazardous substance because of someone else’s negligence, you could make a personal injury claim.
Employer’s Duty of Care
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outlines the responsibilities that an employer must abide to in order to ensure the safety of their staff. This Act means that employers need to reduce risk at work for common incidents like slips, trips, and falls, but it also covers exposure to hazardous substances.
Many jobs involve working with harsh chemicals or being exposed to hazardous substances. If that’s the case, your employer must provide you with the correct Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) and ensure that you are given the necessary training to be able to handle any hazardous substances in a safe way.
Exposure to hazardous substances at work could be both short-term and long-term. An accident could occur where hazardous chemicals leak out of a protected container, or you could be exposed to small amounts of a substance – like asbestos – over a long period of time.
If you have an accident at work or are exposed to hazardous substances at work, and your employer is responsible, you could be eligible for compensation.
According to The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, the person or entity that controls and manages any public space has the responsibility of making sure it’s safe to be used by the public for its intention. That means it needs to undergo regular maintenance to reduce the risk of accidental injury and is subject to Health and Safety legislation.
Public spaces include parks and streets controlled by the local council, but also include restaurants, shopping malls, theatres, and concert venues. If you experience exposure to a hazardous substance at any of these public venues, you could make a compensation claim against the owner, whether it’s an individual or a company.
What Can I Claim For?
There are many injuries you can make a personal injury claim for after you’ve been exposed to hazardous substances. It could be anything from skin conditions to respiratory infections, or even mental illness due to the exposure. Here’s a list of the most common injuries:
- Dermatitis: This is a skin condition that develops after exposure to certain chemicals, usually on the hands and wrists from cleaning chemicals. Dermatitis has the potential to be permanent and can result in your hands becoming sore and cracked. Compensation could be up to £18,000.
- Kidney damage: If you lose a kidney due to your exposure to hazardous chemicals, you may be able to claim compensation up to £42,110.
- Damage to chest/lungs: When you breathe in toxic fumes, you could have ongoing damage to your chest and lungs. If this occurs, you could be entitled to up to £11,820.
- Mental health: You may have PTSD or have experienced mental health issues such as anxiety, as a result of the exposure. If poor mental health affects your daily activities, you could claim compensation.
Claiming Compensation After Exposure to Hazardous Substances
When you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit after being exposed to hazardous substances, it must fall under certain guidelines. These are:
- The incident must have occurred in the past three years.
- A third party, such as an employer, company, local authority, or individual, was negligent.
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances directly caused the injuries sustained.
How To Prove a Hazardous Substance Injury
Once you’ve started the process of your personal injury claim, you’ll need to produce evidence. The more evidence you have, the stronger your claim will be. This could include:
- Witness statements: this could be colleagues who saw what happened or people who were in the same public space as you and witnessed the accident. You can’t take a witness statement at the scene, but you can collect names and phone numbers to be interviewed when building your case.
- Medical records: If you’ve been injured, you may have seen your GP or spent time in the hospital. You can request your medical reports to support your claim.
- CCTV: There could be a recording of the event. As soon as possible, contact the provider to request any CCTV footage from the event.
Contact GSR Solicitors About Your Personal Injury Claim
At GSR Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims, which means we are ideally placed to support you.
If you’d like to speak to one of our solicitors, call us on 01772 356201 or contact us via the live chat option in the bottom right-hand corner of this page. If it’s outside of our standard office hours, you can leave a message and we’ll get back to you when we re-open. We will handle your case sensitively and give you all the information you need to make a personal injury claim about exposure to hazardous substances.