Toluene exposure claims

Introduction

Updated: October 8, 2018

Toluene, also known as methylbenzene and phenylmethane, is extensively used as solvent in the engineering, construction, textiles, printing, woodworking and dry cleaning industries. The chemical is not necessarily toxic when used or handled correctly. However, exposure to high levels of toluene or over a long period can have an adverse effect on workers' health.

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Anyone who has become ill after being exposed to toluene at work may be eligible make a claim for work-related illness or industrial disease compensation claim.

Exposure may occur in a single incident or through chronic exposure to low doses of the chemical over time.

Chemical plant

Do I have a toluene exposure claim?

If you were injured as the result of toluene exposure in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

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What are the effects of toluene exposure?

Toluene is eliminated from the body very quickly and adverse health effects are rare. However, accidents do happen and poor safety protocols and inadequate PPE can increase the risk of, and harm caused by, these accidents.

Inhaling, handling or swallowing high concentrations of toluene can give rise to a variety of respiratory and neurological illnesses, including:

Where toluene exposure is suspected, the injury lawyer will arrange a medical examination to establish whether toluene is present in the body and assess the extent of the damage.

The medical report is used to establish a link between the exposure and the Claimant's symptoms, and as basis for negotiating the level of damages in the compensation claim.

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Who is at risk of toluene exposure?

The majority of toluene exposure cases occur in workers who are exposed to the solvents in the workplace without the proper personal protective equipment such as face masks, heavy gloves and breathing apparatus.

As such, toluene exposure claims usually fall within the category of hazardous substances compensation claims against an employer.

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Is the employer liable?

Health and safety laws such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) call for the strict control of industrial solvents in the workplace.

Employers are expected to monitor toluene exposure and ensure that workers stay below the exposure limit of 50 parts per million averaged over an 8-hour working day.

Appropriate exposure-reduction measures include:

  • Installing a suitable exhaust ventilation system to remove toxic vapours from the work area
  • Providing localised extraction equipment
  • Monitoring air quality and acting upon the results
  • Issuing equipment as defined by the PPE at Work regulations such as gloves, face masks and breathing apparatus to reduce the risk of inhalation and skin contact
  • Providing separate lockers for work and street clothing to prevent cross-contamination
  • Properly labelling solvent containers
  • Taking steps to prevent leakage and discharge of the chemical
  • Training staff on safe handling procedures.

An employer who fails to implement reasonable safety measures may be liable for any toluene-related illness that arises as a result. The Courts are very likely to find an employer negligent if the employer has breached a specific health and safety rule, such as those laid down by COSHH.

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What if the employer has gone out of business?

Industrial diseases that result from toluene exposure can take many years to develop. It is possible that the employer responsible for the toluene exposure has gone out of business by the time a diagnosis is made.

In this scenario, it may still be possible to bring a compensation claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with tracing the former employer's insurance company using the Employers' Lliability Tracing Office. Even if the employer has ceased trading, settlement may be negotiated with the insurer.

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How to make a no win - no fee toluene exposure claim with Quittance

Typically a no win no fee arrangement (more correctly called a CFA or Conditional Fee Agreement) is entered into between the claimant and a personal injury lawyer.

The Conditional Fee Agreement is basically the terms under which the solicitor represents the claimant.

The agreement details what the solicitors will actually do and how the solicitor is paid if your claim is won.

If you decide to choose Quittance Personal Injury for your toluene exposure compensation claim there are absolutely no hidden costs , nothing to pay up-front and the peace of mind that you will never be financially out of pocket.

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How much compensation can I claim for toluene exposure?

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

Quittance Legal Services' national network of solicitors help injured people with all types of industrial disease claims and have a wealth of experience in short-term, serious and life-changing injury claims. Our solicitors are chosen for their winning track record and their specialist expertise.

Click here to meet more of the QLS team.

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

About the author

Jonathan has over 30 years' experience in the personal injury sector and has been awarded the rank of Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

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