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Your employer owes you a duty of care to keep you safe and protect you from any risks or hazards in the working environment. A number of workers are at risk of harm due to hazardous substances in the air whist they are at work, often invisible fumes that can be very dangerous to the body when inhaled.

Toxic fumes can cause several complications to the body including cancers, lung problems and organ damage which can be life-changing and even life-limiting for the individual.

If you’ve been exposed to hazardous fumes in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation and should always seek legal advice. These claims are quite complex and challenging as it requires us to prove that the employer is liable for any exposure you’ve had to toxic fumes and the fumes caused or contributed the ailment or disease.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) covers exposure to toxic fumes at work and it defines what is known as a substance that is hazardous to health. The definition includes a wide array of substances including: chemicals, products containing chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists and many more. This could include construction workers, inhaling a large amount of dust or debris or even hairdressers inhaling harmful chemicals within hair products. Other examples at workers at risk include:

  • Those using solder, glues and resin.
  • Those working with laboratory animals.
  • Those working with flour or grain.
  • Those working in kitchens.

If such substances are used or created within the workplace, the employer has a duty to carry out a risk assessment to determine how the employees may be at risk and therefore conclude about how to reduce the risk to protect them. This assessment is otherwise known as a COSHH assessment. Often, employers will provide at-risk employees with respiratory protective equipment (RPE), and these come in the form of visors, hoods, masks and helmets.

The regulations state that the employer must ensure that the health of their employees is protected from exposure to toxic/hazardous substances. Where it cannot be prevented, the employer must adequately control the risk of hazardous substances that may impact their employees’ health. Often when employers are faced with a hazardous substance claim, they deny liability due to making reasonable steps to prevent the exposure such as providing RPE. Therefore, proving liability and causation lies with you, the claimant and it must be proven that your employer is liable for neglecting their duty of care. This could be due to providing faulty RPE or not undertaking risk assessments to diagnose any possible risks of toxic substances.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is odourless, tasteless, and colourless which makes it very difficult to detect without the proper equipment. It is created when fossil fuels burn without enough oxygen. A source of carbon monoxide is commonly due to fuel burning appliances which are faulty or badly installed. Workers at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Those working with cars inhaling the fumes of car or truck engines.
  • Boiler room workers.
  • Warehouse workers.
  • Steel production industries.
  • Workers using petrol-powered vehicles, equipment and machines.
  • Workers who use gas appliances.
  • Those working with blast furnaces.

Industries that regularly use petrol powered vehicles or machinery are the most at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which can result in very serious complications. They are more likely to be exposed to carbon monoxide over a prolonged period throughout the course of their career.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is very dangerous when inhaled. In certain circumstance, when a person breathes in a large amount of CO, they may become faint, or it can be even more serious and kill you. The consequences of breathing in carbon dioxide result in the prevention of oxygen being carried around the body. Common symptoms are often like flu and include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that employers can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide within the workplace by checking, maintaining, and servicing any equipment. They should install carbon monoxide detectors and ensure that they are working correctly. They should also provide training to their employees about how to spot the signs of carbon monoxide.

If you’ve sustained illness due to exposure to carbon monoxide or any other toxic substance in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation.

The claims process

Most employers have employers’ liability insurance so when we make a claim on your behalf, we deal with the insurance company.  Once we obtain those insurance details, we will upload your claim to the claim’s portal. When the insurance company receive the claim, they have 3 months to investigate the claim before they decide on whether to accept or deny liability. When a decision has been made, we will begin to collate medical evidence; this can include obtaining medical records and arranging an appointment with a medical expert who will produce a report in support of your claim. The medical evidence is what we will use to value your claim. The medical expert may also recommend additional rehabilitation or treatment such as physiotherapy or may recommend that we refer you to another specialist such as a psychologist. After we have collated the medical evidence and valued your claim, we will start to discuss offers with the other side. We will also ask you about any special damages you may be owed such as lost wages, we will ask you to provide wage slips so that we may calculate your loss of earnings. We will provide evidence of special damages to the other side for their consideration also. When an offer has been put forward, we will discuss this with you and providing you feel the offer is appropriate we will accept it on your behalf.

Why choose GSR Solicitors?

  • Personal Injury experts
  • No Win, No Fee, with No Hidden Costs
  • Awarded Best Top-Rated Personal Injury Solicitors in Preston 2022
  • Awarded Best Nationwide Personal Injury Law Firm 2022 by the Northern Enterprise Awards 2022.
  • Client driven and dedicated

We will deal with your claim on a no win, no fee basis so you don’t need to worry about any costs. To get started, simply fill in our contact form and someone from our team will be in touch for a free consultation. Or can also call 01772 356201 or email

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