Diesel exhaust fumes cancer compensation claims
This article sets out what you need to know about making a diesel related cancer compensation claim.
In 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) re-classified diesel fumes as a ?definite carcinogen', putting it in the highest category of cancer causing agents. This was based on evidence that showed diesel fumes directly cause lung cancer, and also possibly bladder cancer.
People who have been diagnosed with these cancers should consider whether they have been exposed to diesel fumes. Many professions, such as agriculture, construction, energy extraction, mining, rail, shipping, transport/logistics, tunnelling, vehicle repair and warehousing are all considered high risk.
If the diesel exposure is viewed as being an active agent in the cancer, compensation can be sought.
If you have suffered cancer caused by diesel exhaust fumes in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.
According to Cancer Research UK's carcinogen expert, Professor David Philips, when diesel burns inside an engine it releases two potentially cancer-causing agents: microscopic soot particles and chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
The soot can get lodged in the lungs causing mutation and inflammation, whilst the PAHs which coat them can damage DNA cells in the lungs.
Although this tells us how, the exact conditions, such as exposure time or which agent contributes most to getting cancer, are not known. What is known, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is that people regularly exposed to diesel exhaust fumes at work can be up to 40% more likely to develop lung cancer.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Responsibility for hazardous substances in the workplace, such as diesel fumes, usually falls on the company or individual employer. Legally, employers have a duty to reasonably protect their workers from harm, so if an employee suffers through a failing in this respect the employee can look to them for liability.
A range of legislation and guidelines influence this, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and The Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations 2002.
The Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations 2002 is intended to protect workers from dangerous substances such as diesel fumes. To follow these, employers are required to:
- Identify dangerous substances and carry out a risk assessment
- Implement measures to prevent or minimise exposure
- Instruct and train staff on the risks as well as the specified safety practices
- Maintain all safety equipment and continually monitor risks
- Ensure first aid and emergency facilities are provided
In the case of diesel fumes, employers (at least since diesel fumes were classified as a ?probable' or ?definite' cause) should be taking the risk of cancer into account in their planning. This includes employing adequate measures to prevent or minimise exposure, such as ensuring adequate ventilation/extraction apparatus is in place and providing staff with sufficient personal protective equipment like breathing masks.
If these measures were not taken, it is possible that the diesel fumes present could have caused the cancer. Even when such measures were taken, if they were not done sufficiently, for example, the protective equipment was faulty or ill-fitting, the employer's negligent actions could still have contributed to the cancer.
If a person has become ill with cancer as a result of exposure to diesel fumes, whether at work or otherwise, they deserve the best in medical care and treatment. They also deserve to be reimbursed for any financial losses they have incurred as a result, such as being unable to work for an extended period.
Ultimately, an employer is responsible, but only if it can be proven that they did not uphold their responsibilities to protect the employee from harm. In order to prove this, evidence is likely needed to demonstrate the role the employer played in the exposure.
Finding this may be difficult, as cancer can take years to develop. The claim may have to rely on witnesses and company records, with more recent medical reports being used to show prognosis.
This is why seeking help from legal professionals can be extremely worthwhile. The team at Quittance specialise in personal injury claims and can assist in the process.
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The Conditional Fee Agreement is essentially the contract between the personal injury solicitor and you.
It details the service executed by the lawyer and a percentage success fee that will be deducted from the compensation if the claim is won.
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About the author
Paul is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and has served as a Deputy District Judge, giving him a uniquely broad understanding of the claims process.
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