Workplace cancer compensation claims
This easy-to-follow guide looks at everything you should know about making a successful workplace cancer compensation claim.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have estimated that there are around 13,500 new cases of cancer caused by work every year. This figure is likely to be an underestimate, as many links between working environments and some cancer illnesses are not yet proven.
If an individual has been exposed to a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, in the workplace, and the individual is diagnosed with cancer, they could be entitled to make a claim.
If you have been diagnosed with a workplace-related cancer in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.
Carcinogens come in many forms, including: vapours; liquids; gases; solids and dusts. Damage can occur through inhalation, swallowing or if they come into contact with bare skin.
All potentially carcinogenic substances are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) as ‘definitely', ‘probably' or ‘possibly' carcinogenic (versus not classifiable or probably not carcinogenic).
What industries are most at risk?
According to the HSE, the construction industry has the largest number of occupational cancer cases, with 5,500 registered each year.
Other high risk industries include: plastic, textiles, rubber, pesticide/fertiliser manufacturers; glass and metal production; tyre making; gasworks; aerospace; petrol and diesel; paint production; leather treating plants; dentistry; printing; and chemical manufacturing and processing.
What type of cancer does each carcinogen produce?
The type of occupational cancer diagnosed varies depending on the causal agent the person was exposed to. According to the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH), common carcinogens and their corresponding cancers include:
- Asbestos fibre-related claims (larynx, lung, ovary, pharynx, colorectum, stomach cancers, mesothelioma)
- Wood dusts (nasopharynx, sinonasal cancers)
- UV radiation from sunlight (skin cancers)
- Metalworking fluids and mineral oils (bladder, lung, sinonasal, skin cancers)
- Silica dust-related claims (silicosis, lung cancer)
- Diesel engine exhaust-related claims (bladder, lung cancers)
- Coal tars and pitches (non-melanoma skin cancer)
- Arsenic (bladder, lung, skin cancers)
- Dioxins (lung cancer)
- Environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoking claims) (lung cancer)
- Naturally occurring radon (lung cancer)
- Tetrachloroethylene (cervix, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, oesophagus cancers)
- Paints (bladder, lung)
- Welding (lung cancer, melanoma of the eye)
- Shift (night) work (breast cancer)
Confirming a diagnosis of work-related cancer In order to pursue a claim, a cancer must be seen as a direct result of workplace exposure to a known carcinogen. Unfortunately, for the individual affected, it can be hard to accurately conclude that a specific chemical or radiation caused a cancer.
Doctors are aware of many of the known carcinogens and the types of cancer they can produce. Any medical examination will include asking certain background information, including work history. This will help establish a link.
As cancers can take ten years or more after exposure to appear, it is important to look at past jobs as well as more current ones. A solicitor can help a claimant gather supporting evidence, such as company health and safety records, as well as witnesses, to help build a case.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Employers are required to protect their employees from harm in the workplace. This legal responsibility is provided for in a range of legislation including the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work 1999.
In addition, when a known carcinogen is used in a workplace, an employer is required to identify it, then either remove it or implement appropriate measures to control it. This guidance is set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
In many industries, removing the carcinogen completely is not possible, as the substance is a necessary component of a process. In these instances, the employer must carry out a full risk assessment and ensure that exposed workers are sufficiently protected by:
- Installing adequate safety measures including barriers, warning signs and ventilation and regularly checking and maintaining them
- Providing good quality, industry approved personal proactive equipment (PPE) such as safety clothing, breathing masks and eye wear and showing them how to properly use it
- Training staff on the potential risks of the known carcinogen and the correct safety procedures
- Providing health surveillance to check for cancer or pre-cancerous cells
If an employer fails to adhere to any of these requirements and a worker is later diagnosed with cancer they could be held liable - provided the diagnoses confirms that the cancer is likely to be a result of the carcinogen in that particular work environment.
No Win, No Fee agreements, or CFAs (Conditional Fee Agreements), comprise the foundation of a injury claim.
A CFA details the service delivered by the solicitor handling your case, and crucially, a success fee that will be deducted from the award if your claim is won.
There will be absolutely no hidden charges with a Quittance solicitor. You are able to focus on your rest and recovery, with the knowledge that there will be nothing whatsoever to pay up front.
The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our work injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.
Meet the QLS team
Quittance Legal Services' nationwide panel of solicitors carry out the legal work for all types of industrial disease claim, including short-term, serious and life-changing injury claims. Selected because of their track record in recovering compensation, our lawyers have years of dedicated experience handling injury claims.
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).
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert