Chemical gas inhalation claims

Updated: October 8, 2018


Employees working in a very wide range of industries are at risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Exposure commonly occurs as a result of the inhalation of gases knowingly or unknowingly given off in circumstances including manufacturing processes, cleaning products and waste processes.

Industrial disease compensation claims and other claims for hazardous chemical exposure frequently relate to cases of historic exposure. In such cases, the affected individual may not realise for some years that their illness relates to gas inhalation.

The worker may not even have been aware of the exposure at all.

Expert legal advice and medical evidence can make a crucial difference to the success of these claims.

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Causes of exposure

To make a successful claim, the cause of the exposure must be established.

Causes of chemical and gas inhalation accidents in the workplace include:

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Effects of chemical exposure

Gases such as sulphur dioxide, ammonia and phosgene may cause eye, mouth, throat and nose irritation.

Sulphuric acid and nitrogen oxide may cause irritation to the lungs with long continuous exposure permanently damaging the affected areas.

Respiratory syndromes may be triggered where normal oxygen content of the air has been compromised by gases such as acetylene.

Employees working in an environment that exposes them to inhalation of bauxite dust and asbestos may sustain serious lung damage.

Skin allergy, dermatitis, chronic asthma and permanent disability of lungs have been observed by the inhalation of toluene, di-isocyanate (TDI) and amine hardeners.

Liver, brain and kidney cells may be damaged by inhalation of certain chemicals, including carbon-tetrachloride, carbon monoxide, mercury, hydrogen, cadmium and cyanide.

Given the wide range of potential sources of exposure and of symptoms, specialist medical evidence is necessary to diagnose the specific condition in support of a claim. Your solicitor will arrange an independent medical report.

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Employers' responsibility.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out wide-ranging duties on employers, and they must protect the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.

This includes safeguarding employees from exposure to substances hazardous to their health - or where this cannot be avoided, ensuring that exposure is managed in a way that is safe.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lists around 400 chemicals and products requiring workplace exposure limits for hazardous substances within the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). The HSE does not include asbestos as this has separate regulations.

Regular medical examinations should be provided to monitor any effects of exposure as these may vary with different people. An employee with a known susceptibility to a particular chemical should make this known to his employer, who must then make special provision to ensure that the employee is safe from the risk of chemical or gas inhalation.

Employers must also train employees on chemical handling and inform them of the potential risks associated with each toxic compound.

Employees must be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators, face covers, gloves and safety masks to avoid hazardous substance exposure.

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Do I have a chemical gas inhalation claim?

The inhalation of toxic substances may have an immediate impact on a person's health, or symptoms of any illness arising from the exposure may take years to appear.

Claims for chemical exposure at work

Anyone sustaining illness or injury through inhalation of chemicals or gases during their employment may be entitled to bring a work-related illness claim.

An employer may be found negligent if it has failed to take precautions, ignored safety measures, or did not provide suitable equipment to protect employees from substances hazardous to their health.

It may be possible to bring a claim, under certain circumstances, even if years have elapsed since the likely cause of the illness, and the worker is no longer employed by the company.

Members of the public claiming for gas or chemical exposure

An occupiers's liability claim or public liability claim may be made by a member of the public if they are negligently exposed to harmful chemicals.

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No Win, No Fee gas inhalation claims explained

A gas inhalation No Win, No Fee claim commences with the Claimant signing a Conditional Fee Agreement (also known as a CFA) with a lawyer.

The agreement sets out the service provided by the solicitor and, most significantly, the "success fee" to be deducted from the damages after your injury lawyer wins the case.

Choosing a Quittance personal injury lawyer, you have peace of mind with the knowledge that there will be nothing whatsoever to pay up front.

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How much compensation can I claim for a chemical gas inhalation injury?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our personal injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

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Meet our team

The nationwide network of QLS solicitors help injured people with all types of industrial disease claims, from fast track cases to serious, long-term injury. Our solicitors are selected on the basis of their track record in winning cases and their specialist expertise.

Meet the team - click here.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Tim Fieldhouse Industrial Disease Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert

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