If a PVC exposure injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a PVC exposure injury, we can help. You can make a hazardous substances compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
The Health and Safety Executive states that Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contains a number of 'thermal degradation products' that are released when the material is heated.
PVC manufacturing-related chemicals are a common source of work-related illness and, in cases of an employer's negligence, subsequent industrial disease claims.
Many of PVC's thermal degradation chemicals are harmful and include:
- Hydrogen Chloride
- Toluene Styrene
- Methyl Chloride
Neither PVC nor its thermal degradation products were considered dangerous until the 1960s. Since 1974, there have been strict regulations designed to minimise exposure to PVC. High exposure to the chemical is now thought to cause a range of serious illnesses, including liver cancer.
Employers are now legally obliged to protect their staff from harmful levels of exposure to PVC.
What are the symptoms of PVC exposure?
If you are exposed to vinyl chloride for a short period of time by inhalation, you may experience coughing and find that breathing becomes more difficult. Headaches and a feeling of extreme tiredness can also result from inhaling vinyl chloride. In extreme cases, high levels of short term inhalation can induce a coma.
If PVC is swallowed, or ingested, it can cause a person to vomit and to experience pain in the stomach. If the chemical enters the via the skin, vinyl chloride can cause skin irritation, burns injuries and dermatitis. Those who ingest harmful levels of PVC are often not immediately aware of any immediate ill-effects, which can make it difficult to establish later how the exposure occurred.
Individuals who once worked in the manufacturing industry may be diagnosed with a condition that relates to PVC exposure that occurred years earlier.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classed vinyl chloride as a known human carcinogen. The EPA has reported that when some workers were exposed to PVC, they developed a condition known as 'vinyl chloride disease'. The disease has similar symptoms to Raynaud's disease: numbness and pain in the fingers; pain in the joints and muscles; and some skin changes. Long term exposure to vinyl chloride is also reported to have had various effects on the nervous system.
Testing for Vinyl Chloride
If your exposure to PVC was relatively recent, it may be possible to detect its presence in your . If this is possible, the chemical would be found in your urine or tissues. If your exposure to vinyl chloride occurred several years ago, it may be difficult to find conclusive proof.
However, if you have had symptoms that suggest exposure to PVC, and a medical professional considers that your condition was caused by your previous working environment, you may be able to claim compensation for what has happened. Such a claim could help you to cope with the consequences of being exposed to vinyl chloride, and achieve redress for your suffering.
Am I entitled to make a PVC exposure claim?
If you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you will be able to claim compensation.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
How long do I have to claim PVC exposure compensation?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
If you were not immediately aware that you were harmed by someone else's negligence, the 3-year time limit runs from the date you were diagnosed and became aware of what caused your injury or illness.
How much compensation can I claim for a PVC exposure?
Your injury compensation is calculated with reference to:
- the severity of your injury or illness, and
- the financial losses or costs you have incurred.
Your solicitor will evaluate the impact of your injuries or illness on your life, considering these factors to determine the appropriate compensation amount.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
General damages are compensation for the "pain, suffering, and loss of amenity" or have experienced (or PSLA). These compensation levels are set by the Judicial College, which provides detailed guidelines for personal injury award calculations.
Special damages is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you've incurred as a result of your PVC exposure Compensation can include loss of wages, commission and any other income income, and any additional expenses directly related to your injury.
These damages may also cover any medical or treatment bills, such as medical monitoring and psychological support.
Employers' liability claims claims
Work-related illness claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.