MEK poisoning claims

Introduction

Updated: October 8, 2018

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) is a highly flammable liquid which is used as a solvent in the paint, plastics, rubber and textiles industries. It is also found in some printing inks, paint removers and varnishes. The chemical is not considered a significant threat to health.

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However, exposure to high levels of MEK may cause a number of allergic reactions such as occupational dermatitis. Exposure usually occurs when MEK is spilled and the fumes are inhaled. MEK may also enter the body through contaminated food and water or through direct contact with the skin.

The majority of MEK poisoning cases occur in workers who are exposed to Methyl Ethyl Ketone in the workplace without the proper protective equipment. As such, they fall within the category of hazardous substances compensation claims against an employer.

Hazardous chemical storage

What are the symptoms of MEK poisoning?

Inhaling or ingesting MEK, also known as butanone-2 or methyl acetone, can give rise to symptoms of various severity depending on the extent of the exposure. These include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing problems
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dermatitis
  • Irritation of the eye, nose, mouth or throat
  • Lung damage
  • Unconsciousness.

Combining MEK with Methyl Butyl Ketone, n-hexane or other chemicals in the manufacturing process may increase the effect that MEK has on health. Exposure to these chemical combinations may cause irreversible nerve damage - a symptom that is not associated with exposure to MEK alone.

As a preliminary step, the injury lawyer will arrange an independent medical examination to assess whether MEK is present in the body and to establish the level of damage. The medical expert will recommend any treatment that is needed and give a prognosis for recovery. The medical report is used as a basis for negotiating the compensation claim.

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Do I have a MEK poisoning claim?

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Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Whenever harmful chemicals are present, the employer must take action to minimise the effect they might have on a worker's health.

The primary piece of legislation is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). Under COSHH, an employer must:

  • Ensure that workplaces where MEK is used have adequate ventilation and extraction equipment
  • Issue personal protective clothing and equipment such as chemical safety goggles, skin protection and breathing apparatus where appropriate
  • Store chemicals properly to prevent spillages and chemical poisoning
  • Keep the concentration of MEK in the air below the maximum workplace exposure limit specified by the Health and Safety Executive from time to time
  • Offer health checks to workers who may be at risk of MEK poisoning.

An employer who fails in their duty to protect workers from MEK exposure may be liable for any illnesses that arise as a result. An employer almost always will be negligent if they have breached a specific health and safety rule such as those laid down by COSHH.

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Guaranteed No Win No Fee MEK poisoning claim

A no win no fee agreement (also referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is entered into between a claimant and a suitably qualified lawyer.

A Conditional Fee Agreement is in essence the terms under which the solicitor acts for their client.

The CFA sets out what the solicitors will actually do as well as how he will be remunerated if your claim is successful.

If you use a Quittance Personal Injury solicitor for your MEK poisoning claim there are no sneaky hidden charges , nothing to pay up-front and the comfort that you will never be financially out of pocket.

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How much compensation can I claim for MEK poisoning?

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 the QLS team

The national network of Quittance solicitors handle all types of industrial disease claims, from short-term injury cases to catastrophic injury. Our lawyers are chosen on the basis of their specialist knowledge and their winning track record.

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
Paul Carvis, Personal injury solicitor

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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