Toluene exposure compensation claims
The following article sets out what you should know about making a toluene exposure compensation claim.
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.
Exposure may occur in a single incident or through chronic exposure to low doses of the chemical over time.
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.
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:
- Breathing difficulties
- Inflammation of the throat, lungs, nose and mouth
- Occupational asthma
- Confusion, hallucinations and delusions
- Mood swings
- Chronic fatigue
- Kidney, liver and lung damage
- In severe cases, blindness, deafness, paralysis, coma and death.
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.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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