Industrial Disease

Asbestosis

abstracts_045If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening please contact us as you may be able to claim compensation. We offer an initial interview free of charge, with no obligation to proceed, at the end of which we will advise you about the prospects for a compensation claim succeeding. We will also make sure that you have all the information you need about the welfare benefits and Government payments you may be entitled to.

If you wish to make a claim for compensation, we will visit you at home to get the information we require – we do not expect you to travel to our offices. We will act for you under a “no win-no fee” agreement and guarantee that if your claim does not succeed, you will have nothing to pay. If your claim does succeed, you will keep all of your damages. We will not withhold any of your award.

We pride ourselves on our compassionate approach. We work conscientiously, aiming to achieve the best possible outcome for all our clients. We try to deal with cases as quickly and efficiently as possible and to minimise the disruption to our clients’ lives at what we know is a very difficult time.

Noise induced hearing loss

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires employers to reduce noise levels as far as possible and to provide and enforce the use of appropriate personal protective equipment in working environments with high noise levels. People working in the building trade, on production lines in noisy factories and people working with noisy machine tools are highly susceptible to work related hearing loss if they are not provided with the proper safety equipment.

Work related hearing loss covers many different hearing disorders such as tinnitus, acoustic or sonic shock and even deafness. If you are or have previously been exposed to prolonged periods of loud noise in the workplace and now suffer with hearing loss or hearing problems, you should speak to a solicitor who specialises in work related illness to find out if you are entitled to make a noise induced hearing loss claim.

Hearing loss can affect your quality of life and can affect your ability to do your job if you need to be able to hear your co-workers around you for safety reasons.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is one of the most widespread causes of ill health at work and when chronic, can make work impossible. In the UK, 0.65 million days are lost per year for men as a result of it, and 0.2 million for women. It accounts for 30 per cent of all work related health problems. It is a condition of the skin which can be caused by exposure to certain substances at work. It can be caused by the skin being exposed to an irritant (i.e. irritant contact dermatitis) or to an allergen (i.e. allergic contact dermatitis). Irritant contact dermatitis is the most prevalent form with allergic contact dermatitis affecting only a small minority.

Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by substances such as acids, alkalis, soaps, detergents, and solvents, that physically damage the skin or its protective oils and result in an outbreak or eruption of the skin which leaves the skin inflamed. Initial signs include redness, itching, scaling and blistering. As the condition progresses, the skin can crack and bleed and the dermatitis can spread further all over the body. Normally, the skin settles down once the sufferer ceases to work with the substance causing the problem.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to a substance to which a person has become hypersensitive or allergic. It develops in stages. The allergenic action of a substance depends on its ability to destroy the protective action of the skin so that the allergen can penetrate. Once the skin is penetrated, sensitisation begins. The process can last from 4 days to 3 weeks with no sign of skin damage at this stage. To cause sensitisation the allergenic substance combines with the skin proteins and is carried around the whole body by white blood cells called lymphocytes, which form part of the body’s immune system. The immune system has a ‘memory’, enabling it to recognise and neutralise substances more than once. When a sensitised worker is re-exposed to the substance, the lymphocytes recognise the allergen and react with it, releasing tissue damaging chemicals called lymphokynes. This is when symptoms appear. If there is no further contact with the allergen, sensitivity may gradually decline. Common allergens include nickel or other metals, medications, latex, rubber, cosmetics, fragrances, and perfumes.

Employers Obligations

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW) and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), employers have a legal duty to assess the risks which could cause dermatitis and hence to prevent employees coming into contact with substances which can cause dermatitis. Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR), diagnosed cases of occupational dermatitis must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.

To prevent contact dermatitis, employers should:-

  1. Assess all hazardous substances under COSHH using both manufacturers safety data sheets and information on the specific workplace
  2. Stop using substances concerned, by either substituting a less hazardous substance, or redesigning the job to eliminate chemicals altogether
  3. If the substance cannot be substituted, redesign the process to prevent hazardous exposures, for example by enclosing the system.
  4. Provide adequate welfare facilities (washing and drying close to work area) and ensure aggressive cleaning materials are not themselves a factor
  5. Carry out health surveillance, via occupational health nurses or doctors or competent personnel.
  6. Provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to employees.
  7. Ensure substances requiring dilution are handled correctly and diluted before being distributed.
  8. Store and label substances correctly with the appropriate hazards warning and instructions on neutralising.
  9. Barrier creams and personal protective equipment, such as gloves, aprons, face shields and overalls, are a last resort. If used, the employer should provide and maintain them and they must be suitable for both the job and the workers. Many substances can penetrate ordinary creams and rubber gloves, which can then hold the substance against the skin.