£146k awarded for injuries from toluene exposure

Compensation of £146,560 was awarded to a 30 year old man for permanent serious injuries caused by inhalation of the hazardous substances, namely toluene, e-hexane and ethyl acetate in the course of his employment with the local council.

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Case details

Injury details:

The claimant was 25 years old when the injury occurred and 30 years old at the date of trial. He was a skilled carpenter employed by a local Council. At the time of the injury, he was sent by the Council to work in premises where there was inadequate ventilation for two days in the summer of 1991.

The claimant was gluing skirting boards onto walls using adhesives containing the hazardous substances. As a result, he was exposed to high levels of the solvents, toluene, e-hexane and ethyl acetate for the majority of the two days

By the end of the second day the claimant began to have physical symptoms of hallucinations, he went temporarily blind, he had headaches, a sore throat and sore eyes. He also suffered mentally and thought that he was about to die.

He suffered a psychiatric injury, which was diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder.

He also suffered depression which made everyday life decisions difficult for him.


It was alleged that the defendant was negligent insofar as they failed to provide the claimant with a safe place to work and/or safe working practices.

The claimant alleged that the defendant's negligence had caused him to suffer from permanent physical and psychological injuries resulting in a disadvantage to him in his future employment.

Settlement and conclusion

The matter progressed to a Court hearing.

The Court held that the claimant could no longer work as a carpenter, as a result of the post traumatic stress disorder and its permanent consequences, principal among which was his inability to work with adhesives because they continue to be a disturbing reminder of the incident.

Compensation of £11,000 was awarded by the Court for "pain, suffering and loss of amenity" made up of £4,000 for physical injuries and £7,000 for psychological injuries. The remainder of the compensation was made up of past and future loss of earnings.

Read more: work accident compensation claims

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher