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Claims for Lung Injuries from Inhaling Fumes in a Factory

Can claims for lung injuries from inhaling fumes in a factory be made against an employer? My doctor has told me that I have chronic bronchitis and it was most likely caused by my job.

It is possible to make claims for lung injuries from inhaling fumes in a factory provided that your employer has been negligent by allowing you to breathe in dangerous chemical fumes at work.

Your employer has a legal responsibility to keep you safe at work and must ensure that working conditions are not hazardous to the health. Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002) employers must ensure that adequate control measures are in place to ensure that the risk of exposure to chemicals at work is kept to the minimum possible level.

If you were required to work with chemicals or other potentially harmful substances in the workplace, your employer should have ensured that your place of work was properly ventilated. Your employer should also have monitored the work environment to ensure that dangerous levels of fumes were not allowed to accumulate, and that the ventilation systems were effective. You should also have been provided with breathing apparatus if the risk of inhaling fumes was significant.

A failure to follow government legislation on Health and Safety at work and to implement HSE guidelines would be classed as a serious failure in a duty of care and negligence on the part of your employer. If this was the case, and provided that it is possible to prove this, you should be able to recover compensation for inhaling fumes in a factory against your employer’s liability insurance policy.

However, claims for lung injuries from inhaling fumes in a factory cannot be made if your lung condition was caused by your own negligence. If you were provided with breathing apparatus and you chose not to use it, your injury will be considered to be your own fault and a claim for lung injuries from factory fumes will not be possible.

There are two important procedures which must be completed because of the nature of your workplace injury. It is important that the accident is recorded in your employer’s accident book. An official record of the accident can be used to support your claim and will establish the link between your respiratory illness and your workplace. It is also important that the HSE is notified about the accident. Injuries sustained from breathing chemical fumes at work are reportable under RIDDOR. Your employer is responsible for reporting the accident to the HSE but you should check that this procedure has been completed.

We also strongly recommend that you speak with a personal injury solicitor about recovering compensation for inhaling fumes in a factory. A solicitor will ensure that your injuries are fully diagnosed and sufficient evidence is collected to build a strong claim for lung injuries from factory fumes against your employer.