Lead poisoning claims

Introduction

Updated: October 8, 2018

Occupational exposure is one of the most widespread causes of lead poisoning in adults. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there were 6751 workers under medical surveillance for work with lead in 2013/14.

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The Courts recognise that the severity of symptoms vary with exposure. Lead poisoning is known to cause headache, memory loss, abdominal pain, anaemia, irritability, infertility, kidney failure and seizures and any of these symptoms can form the basis of a claim.

If a person suffers lead poisoning due to exposure to hazardous substances caused by a third party, they could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Factory fumes

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Lead commonly gets into the environment as a result of industrial omissions from mining, smelting, recycling or waste incineration. Poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, usually through repeated exposure. People can become exposed through contaminated air, water, soil, food or paint chips.

The industry sector with the highest number of employees under medical surveillance was the smelting, refining, alloying and casting sector. Industrial disease specialist solicitors can assist with lead poisoning claims in any sector, including:

  • Plumbers and fitters
  • Motor mechanics
  • Glass workers
  • Construction workers
  • Battery manufacturers
  • Recycling plant workers
  • Plastic manufacturers

Although lengthy and dangerous exposures to lead are now rare, workplaces which use lead continue to pose a potential risk to employees. The majority of industrial disease compensation cases for lead poisoning are the result of occupational exposure. In these cases the employer is liable if their actions in preventing lead exposure were deemed negligent.

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Identifying lead poisoning for the purposes of a claim

Lead poisoning can be difficult to diagnose. Some of the symptoms are non-specific and can relate to a number of other illnesses. During the medical examination arranged by your solicitor, an independent medical expert will:

  • Discuss medical and work history, including the work environment and role
  • Ascertain any symptoms or changes in behaviour
  • Explore possible routes of exposure
  • Initiate testing of the blood lead level (symptoms can occur at levels above 40 µg/dL, but are more likely to occur above 50-60 µg/dL)

Where lead poisoning is diagnosed, swift action should be taken to identify the source and prevent further exposure. If blood levels are high, chelation therapy may be needed to excrete the lead. Treatment may also be needed for calcium, iron and zinc deficiencies.

A claim can include any costs incurred during treatment, including prescriptions for calcium and other deficiencies.

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What are the legal requirements of employers regarding lead?

Employers have a legal duty of care to protect employees from harm - a duty provided for in a wide range of regulations, including:

This includes ensuring they carry out comprehensive risk assessments of the work environment and implement sufficient health and safety measures to control them.

In relation to lead, employers are guided specifically by:

  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

This requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. In the case of lead, this includes identifying its presence in the work environment and putting measures in place to control exposure. Measures could include:

  • Fitting adequate ventilation
  • Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as goggles, respiratory protection and gloves
  • Conducting routine blood level testing for workers
  • Providing effective lead removal products

If an employer failed to follow the guidance in any respect, such as providing inadequate PPE, the employer could be held liable for injuries that result from this negligence.

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How much compensation can I claim for lead poisoning?

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If third party negligence is proven the Claimant can pursue damages not only for medical and treatment expenses but also for a range of other losses which are a direct or indirect result of the lead poisoning.

This can include compensation for loss of earnings where the Claimant has had to take time of work or leave employment. It can also include travel to and from appointments. In addition, claims can be made for social losses, such as an inability to participate in normal leisure activities.

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How does No Win, No Fee work with lead poisoning claims?

A No Win, No Fee compensation claim is begun once the Claimant signs up to a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) with their chosen lawyer.

The CFA sets out the service the solicitor handling your case will provide as well as the "success fee" that will be deducted from the compensation award when your claim is won.

Selecting a Quittance personal injury lawyer, you will have peace of mind knowing that there will be nothing whatsoever to pay up front and you will never be out of pocket.

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Meet the QLS team

Our nationwide network of solicitors take on all types of industrial disease claims and have a wealth of expertise with fast track, complex and catastrophic injury claims. Our lawyers are selected on the basis of their winning track record and their knowledge and expertise.

Meet more of the Quittance team: click here.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Tim Fieldhouse Industrial Disease Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Jenny Jones, Senior litigator

About the author

With over 20 years' experience in the law, Jenny has spent the last decade specialising in personal injury, with a particular focus on industrial disease cases.

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