Arsenic poisoning compensation claims

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Jonathan Speight

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A guide to making a No Win No Fee arsenic poisoning claim

Arsenic is a toxic substance used in many industries. Industrial disease compensation claims relating to arsenic poisoning are fairly uncommon relative to other sources of injury in the workplace, but where the link between negligent exposure and the illness can be proved, claims have a good chance of success.

Arsenic use in industry

The most commonly used arsenic compounds are arsenic trioxide, (a white solid) and arsenic trichloride (an oily liquid). These are used in a variety of manufacturing processes - pesticides and herbicides, fireworks, and coatings for photocopier drums.

Inorganic arsenic is a by-product from refining and smelting of ores such as copper and lead. It has applications in the production of special alloys and in glass and ceramics manufacturing. Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) is used in the industrial preservation of wood. 

Arsenic metal is used in electronic components (as gallium arsenide), and non-ferrous metal alloys.

Arsine (arsenic hydride or arsenic trihydride) is a colourless, non-irritating, flammable, toxic gas with a mild garlic-like odour. Formed when arsenic or arsenic-containing compounds react with acid or water, it is used in the semiconductor industry in the production of microchips.

Industrial processes, including welding, soldering, refining, galvanising and etching may lead to the accidental formation of arsine.

How does arsenic exposure occur?

Arsenic compound-related poisoning usually affects an individual after the compound is absorbed into the body by: 

  • Inhaling dust or fumes
  • Skin absorption
  • Swallowing 

Where this exposure has occurred as the result of an employer's negligence, a claim may be made. Common examples of such negligence include where a workplace has poor health and safety standards, or staff are issued with inadequate protective equipment.

Important legislation

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) require employers to assess the risks to employees' health and identify the precautions needed for their protection.

This includes protecting employees from exposure to arsenic and its compounds or adequately controlling the exposure. Fume and dust extraction controls must be maintained to work efficiently.

All employees should be monitored for exposure by an occupational health professional, and any necessary health checks arranged.

Employers should inform, instruct and train all employees who may be exposed to arsenic and its compounds.

Employees have a duty to limit their exposure by using the protective clothing and equipment provided, ensuring that respirators fit properly and are in working order. They should always use extraction or other control methods correctly and report any defects in enclosures, extraction equipment or other control measures.

Always using the washing facilities and not eating or drinking in areas where arsenic or its compounds may be present will prevent oral ingestion of the poison.

If an employer has been negligent in his duty to protect employees from the harmful effects of arsenic a Claimant may be entitled to make a personal injury compensation claim for arsenic poisoning.

Identifying arsenic poisoning

Short-term effects may include irritation of the eyes and nose, skin damage and inflammation, and stomach upsets.

In more severe instances there may be internal bleeding from the stomach and intestines.

Longer-term effects may include damage to peripheral nerves, with numbness and loss of vibration sense in particular; inflammation of the lungs, skin colour changes and prolonged skin inflammation problems, as well as heart and heart rate/rhythm problems.

Repeated exposure to arsenic and arsenic compounds over a period may cause cancer, particularly in the lungs, skin and liver. 

How is arsenic poisoning proven during a claim?

Symptoms such as excessive sweating, seizures and shock, stomach cramps and vomiting, are all considered indicators of arsenic poisoning. The diagnosis may be confirmed through blood or urine tests. 

Tests may be carried out by an independent medical professional during the claims process. These tests will identify the likely cause of a Claimant's illness, and will be a key piece of medical evidence in support of the claim. 

Claims for arsenic poisoning outside the workplace

Arsenic exposure may also occur outside of the workplace, due to a spillage or inadequate safety measures during disposal or incineration of industrial waste and by-products.

If controls to prevent the escape of arsine into the environment are not in place, and members of the public are affected, an arsenic poisoning claim may possibly be made.

Poisoning by arsenic is a prescribed disease in the UK. Anyone affected may be entitled to Industrial Industries Disablement Benefit.

Guaranteed No Win, No Fee arsenic poisoning compensation claim - Pay nothing if you lose your claim

Typically a no win no fee arrangement (also referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement) is entered into between a claimant and a suitably qualified lawyer.

A no win no fee agreement is in essence the terms and conditions under which the solicitor works for the claimant.

The CFA sets out what the lawyers will do and how he is remunerated if the claim is successful.

If you choose Quittance for your arsenic poisoning claim there will be no sneaky hidden costs , nothing to pay up-front and the peace of mind that you will never be out of pocket.

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