When discussing solvents, you might automatically think about a bottle of glue or similar products. However, solvents can be found in a variety of products used in workplaces up and down the country. While solvents are generally safe, they can cause serious health problems and injuries if not used correctly. This guide on solvent exposure compensation claims will explain when you could claim if you’ve suffered because of a solvent-related accident at work.
We offer a free consultation for accident at work claims. If you contact our team of claims advisors, they will answer any questions you might have and you’ll be offered legal advice about what to do next. If there’s a fair chance you’ll be compensated, one of our personal injury lawyers may agree to take on your claim. If they do, they’ll manage everything on a No Win, No Fee basis so you won’t need to pay them for their work unless you are compensated.
Please call us on 0800 652 1345 to discuss your case or read on to learn more about solvent exposure at work claims.
What are solvents?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describes solvents, or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), as products that are used to dilute or dissolve other substances. Dichloromethane (DCM) is a solvent that has the most potential to cause harm. DCM is also known as toluene, white spirit, ethyl acetate, acetone, xylene and methylene chloride.
Solvents are often found in adhesives, toiletries, paints, varnishes, pesticides, paint removers and cleaning products.
Some examples of how solvent exposure can make you ill include:
- Fume inhalation. While paint and other solvents are drying, they can give off solvent fumes.
- Skin contact. If your skin is exposed to solvents for prolonged periods or on multiple occasions, you could end up with burns or dermatitis.
- Eye irritation. Your eyes may be damaged if exposed to some solvents.
- Ingestion. Drinking a solvent inadvertently could cause serious damage to your internal organs.
Symptoms of solvent exposure
Some of the symptoms associated with solvent exposure include:
- Irritated eyes.
- Sickness or nausea.
- Confusion, headaches and dizziness.
- Burns and skin irritation.
- Lung inflammation.
On some occasions, the confusion caused by inhaling solvent fumes can lead to other accidents. For example, you could stumble, fall and injure yourself while overcome by the fumes.
Long-term risks of solvent exposure
In addition to the symptoms listed above, the HSE says that there can be some long-term effects linked to solvent exposure. This could include neurological diseases, cognitive problems, skin dermatitis and liver or kidney problems.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an injury or illness linked to solvent exposure less than 3 years ago, you could be entitled to claim compensation. Even if you no longer work for the same company or you’re retired, we could still help you to begin a claim so please get in touch to find out your options.
Industries where solvents are regularly used
There are some workplaces where solvents are used regularly which makes the risk of solvent exposure injuries higher. Some of the industries where solvent use is commonplace include:
- Ink and paint manufacture.
- Dry cleaning.
- Working with rubber.
Can I claim compensation for solvent exposure?
While you are at work, your employer has a duty of care to try and keep you safe. This duty exists because of laws like the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Another law relevant to solvent exposure claims is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations (2002).
This duty of care means that employers must assess the risk of using solvents in the workplace, ensure staff are trained on their safe use and provide protective equipment where necessary to reduce the risk of injury.
If these laws aren’t adhered to, and you’re injured as a result, you could claim compensation from your employer. Before accepting your claim, one of our personal injury solicitors will check whether:
- Your employer acted negligently (breaching their duty of care); and
- As a result, you were exposed to a solvent; and
- You were subsequently made ill or suffered an injury.
To help prove all of the above were true in your case, you’ll need proof. As such, later on, we’ll explain what to do if you’re exposed to solvents at work.
Negligence leading to solvent exposure compensation claims
You could be entitled to claim compensation for an illness or injury caused by solvent exposure if:
- You had not been trained on how to handle chemicals safely.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not supplied by your employer to reduce the risk of injuries. This could include face masks, respirators, eye protection and protective clothing.
- Poor ventilation in your workplace caused you to inhale solvent fumes.
- Your employer failed to carry out regular risk assessments of your working processes.
- Chemicals were not stored safely or labelled correctly.
- You were not given safety data sheets or information about the chemicals you were using.
- Regular rest breaks away from the solvents were not permitted.
- Your employer did not consider installing safety devices such as splash guards to prevent injuries.
If you believe that you have been exposed to solvents at work because of a mistake your employer made, please call our team to see if you could be eligible to begin a compensation claim.
Will my employer sack me if I sue them?
Many people worry about the consequences of making a workplace personal injury claim. However, by law, your employer can not take any action against you because of your claim. That means they can’t fire you, pick on you, demote you, stop you from receiving training or single you out in any way because of your claim.
If you have suffered as a result of making an honest claim, you could have grounds to sue for unfair or constructive dismissal.
Providing proof for a solvent exposure compensation claim
If you are injured or made ill following exposure to solvents in the workplace, you should:
- Seek medical assistance. It is important that you are examined by a doctor at a minor injuries unit or a hospital so that any injuries are diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. If needed, your solicitor can use copies of your medical records to support your claim.
- Report the accident. Legally, your employer will need to record the incident in an accident report book. Your copy of their form can make it easier to prove that you were involved in an accident and confirm the date and time that it occurred.
- Take photographs. If you are able to, you should take your phone out and take pictures of the accident scene. This can help you to describe what caused your injuries when discussing the claim with your solicitor.
- Speak to any witnesses. In some cases, your solicitor might need to take statements from anyone else who saw what happened. As such, ask any potential witnesses for their contact details.
- Secure CCTV recordings. You are entitled to copies of any relevant footage of the incident in which you were injured if it was captured by CCTV cameras. You should make your request as quickly as possible as most companies don’t keep data longer than a month.
In addition to the steps listed above, you should try to write down as much information about what happened as soon as you can. This could also include information about the dates you couldn’t work or carry out your normal activities and any costs you’ve incurred as a result of your injuries.
Don’t be put off from contacting us if you don’t have all of the proof listed above as we could still help you to claim. If one of our solicitors agrees to represent you, they’ll use any proof you already have and will try to secure anything else that’s needed to prove what happened.
How much compensation for exposure to solvents?
If you file any type of personal injury claim, you should consider how your injuries or illness has affected you physically, mentally and financially. Before filing your claim, your solicitor will examine whether you need to be compensated for exposure to solvents for any of the following:
- Physical pain, suffering and discomfort.
- Psychological suffering including distress, depression or anxiety.
- Medical costs such as plastic surgery to remedy scars.
- Lost income plus any future losses for more serious injuries.
- Loss of amenity i.e. if any of your normal activities are affected by your injuries.
- Transport costs.
- Care costs.
- Personal property replacement costs.
- Making modifications to your home to help you to cope with any permanent disability.
To ascertain how you’ve suffered physically and psychologically, you’ll need an independent medical report. This is generally required in personal injury claims so your solicitor will arrange this for you. During the meeting, a specialist will examine your injuries and discuss how you’ve been affected since you were exposed to the solvent. The report they produce will be forwarded to your employer and your solicitor and form the basis of any compensation you’re awarded.
No Win, No Fee claims
We believe that you are more likely to be paid compensation for injuries caused by solvent exposure if you’re represented by a specialist solicitor. Importantly, you won’t need to worry about losing money on legal fees if your solvent exposure compensation claim is taken on by one of our solicitors as they’ll work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
As such, you:
- Won’t be asked to pay your solicitor upfront.
- Won’t need to pay any legal fees if the claim fails.
- Will have a success fee of up to 25% deducted from any settlement you’re awarded.
The success fee you’ll pay is listed in your No Win, No Fee agreement. It covers the cost of your solicitor’s work which includes:
- Consulting with you to find out how you have suffered.
- Proof gathering.
- Sending the claim to your employer.
- Dealing with your employer’s insurers so you won’t need to handle any complex questions yourself.
- Trying to secure a settlement for you that is fair and covers your suffering.
To check if one of our No Win, No Fee solicitors can help you, speak to our team today.
Solvent exposure injury claim time limit
To avoid missing out on any compensation you may be entitled to, solvent exposure compensation claims should be started 3 years from:
- The date that you were made ill; or
- The date your doctor diagnosed the cause of your illness.
To make it easier for your solicitor to collect proof and medical records to support your claim, you should start the claims process as soon as you’re able to. This could also allow them to request interim payments before the claim is settled to cover any immediate expenses or financial issues caused by your injuries.
To check how long you have to begin a solvent exposure illness claim, please call our team today.
Start a solvent exposure compensation claim today
If you’ve been made ill after being exposed to a solvent, please call our team on 0800 652 1345 for a free consultation about your options. When you contact us, we’ll answer your questions and provide legal advice about your chances of being compensated.
If your claim is accepted, you’ll be represented by one of our personal injury solicitors. They don’t need to be paid upfront as your claim will be dealt with on a No Win, No Fee basis. Any legal fees will only be payable if you are compensated.
To ask any further questions about solvent exposure compensation claims, please call or contact us via our live chat service.