Accident at Work*

Chemical and Gas Inhalation Claims*

Chemical exposure and gas inhalation* can lead to an illness which can have a major impact on our everyday lives and ability to work. Harmful chemicals and gases can include asbestos, sulfur dioxide and mercury. If inhaled in large amounts, they can impact us in a number of different ways. These harmful substances can enter our system and result in blood poisoning.

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Employer Responsibilities

Chemical exposure in the workplace* is the main reason for many of these claims. An employer has a duty of care to ensure that they provide a safe and harm free work environment for their employees. They should carry out frequent assessments to make sure that there are no chemical hazards present. When working in this type of harmful environment an employer has a responsibility to provide adequate training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all members of staff. Employers should also ensure that they provide regular medical examinations to their staff who work in this type of environment also.

Chemical and toxic gas inhalation does not just happen at work but can also affect members of the public. In general, this is done through cleaning products if large amounts of chemicals are used to make up the product. In order to make a claim for this you must prove that a third party acted in a negligent manner which in turn led to your illness. It is important to note that most of these claims are made as personal injury claims through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

Inhalation Symptoms

Symptoms can vary for each individual and in most cases depend on the particular chemical or gas that has been inhaled. When inhaled in small amounts, we are not majorly affected by them. It is when we come in contact with large quantities that serious damage occurs. Chemicals and gases can enter our system by both inhalation and skin contact.

Common symptoms include:

  • Eye, mouth, throat, nose & lung irritation
  • Damage to respiratory system
  • Lung Damage
  • Shortness of breath
  • Damage to liver, brain and kidney cells leading to organ failure
  • Impairment of senses
  • Nausea
  • Chest Pain
  • Blood Poisoning
  • Chemical Burns
  • Fever
  • Headaches, Dizziness and Fainting
  • Skin allergies and dermatitis
  • Chronic asthma
  • Skin or tissue damage leading to cancer

Causes

Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can occur as a result of poorly fitted or maintained equipment. These leaks can lead to various injuries and illnesses which all range in severity. It is important that all workplace equipment, machinery and appliances is regularly maintained and any issues should be repaired in a timely manner. Gas leaks have various side effects including headaches, nausea, irregular breathing and dizziness.

Spillages

Spillages are more commonly associated with chemicals and are defined as the uncontrolled release of a hazardous chemical or substance. Chemical spills can lead to slip and fall accidents and can also leave employees expose to these materials leading to the development of an illness. There should be procedures in place to deal with spillages and they should be cleaned up in a timely manner to avoid workplace accidents*.

Faulty Equipment and Machinery

It is important that all machinery and equipment used in the workplace is maintained and kept in a good working condition. Faulty machinery can lead to accidents at work*. If there are any defects or issues with equipment it can cause gas and chemicals to leak leading to overexposure. This is a common cause of chemical and gas inhalation. Any defective machinery or equipment should be disposed of and replaced as soon as possible to avoid injuries and illness.

Inadequate Training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Where applicable, employers have a duty to provide PPE to their employees. This includes gloves, clothing, footwear and eye and ear protection. Failing to wear the correct equipment can lead to a number of injuries. In relation to working with chemicals and gas wearing inadequate PPE can lead to injuries such as dermatitis and can also cause overexposure to the harmful substances. It is important that where applicable, this equipment is worn at all times throughout the course of employment.

Absorption of Chemicals and Gas Through Skin Contact

Direct contact of the skin with harmful substances and chemicals can lead to injuries such as contact dermatitis and burns. This is commonly caused as a result of failing to wear protective equipment such as gloves. There should be procedures in place to prevent this injury from being sustained and harmful materials and substances should be controlled so that there is no skin contact.


What to do after an accident at work*?

Following an accident at work*, there are a number of steps you should follow:

  1. Seek medical attention

    Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after an accident at work*, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries and seek the relevant medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.

    For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.

  2. Report the accident

    It is critical to report the accident to your superior, i.e. a supervisor or manager on site. It doesn’t matter how small you think the accident may be. By law, accidents at work* are required to be reported if the person is injured and can’t perform their daily work tasks for more than three days. Make sure to fill out an Accident Report Form. This can be used in reference to any medical examination and will also prevent any similar accidents that could happen in the future.

  3. Identify any witnesses

    If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed the accident. This may be of use if you do decide to pursue a workplace accident claim*. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where the accident happened.

  4. Document the incident

    It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:

    •  How the accident happened
    •  Details of any witnesses
    •  If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident
    • Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused the accident
  5. Speak to a workplace accident solicitor*

    If you are considering moving forward with a workplace accident claim* for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a workplace accident claims solicitor* as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A workplace accident solicitor* can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.

    It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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Call us today on +353 1 649 9900 or contact us online.

How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist workplace accident* solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Prepare information for a solicitor

    When you decide you want to move forward with your workplace accident claim* it is important to have all the relevant information to hand when contacting a solicitor. Important information to have on hand at this point is:

    • Date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Details of who/what caused the accident
    • Specifics of what happened
    • Who did you report the accident to?
    • Is there CCTV that may have captured the accident?
    • Details of your injuries
    • Details of hospital or GP attended
    • Any pictures you may have taken of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries
  2. Solicitor becomes your trusted advisor

    As a solicitor is aware of the workplace accident claim* process they can avoid any legal bumps in the road you might encounter if you did this yourself. It is their job to be your trusted advisor on all legal matters throughout your case.

  3. Solicitor obtains a medical report

    One of the most important document in your case is a medical report. Your solicitor will ask for your doctor’s or Hospital details so he can obtain a report on your injuries. This report will then be used to allow us progress your case.

  4. Solicitor prepares the Injuries Board application

    As soon as your solicitor has gathered all the information, your workplace accident claim* will be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. You solicitor will do this for you. Once the Injuries Board assess your claim your solicitor will revert with a suggested settlement amount. At this stage you have a choice to accept the Injuries Board assessment or reject it and move the next steps.

    At this point one of two scenarios will unfold:

    a. If both you and your employer accept the Injuries Board assessment, your case is settled and the person at fault will be ordered to pay settlement to you.

    b. If either you or your employer reject the Injuries Board assessment, then you move to the next stage and your solicitor will issue legal proceedings.

  5. Possible case outcomes

    Before you start to concern yourself with court and everything that comes with it, it’s important to understand that only a very small percentage of cases actually make it to a courtroom.

    Settlement meetings will be arranged where a settlement can be negotiated. Most cases are settled at this point without ever having to step foot into a courtroom and remember it’s your solicitor’s job to be with you every step of the way, right beside you to ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. Your solicitor is to be your trusted advisor throughout the process and to let you focus of your recovery, as they focus on settling your case.

At Tracey’s we make law accessible to all — regardless of your knowledge or experience with the claims process. For more information and a confidential discussion on your workplace accident, phone 01 649 9900 where you can speak with a member of our team straight away, or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a workplace accident claim* you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a workplace accident*.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the workplace accident*, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, and added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital). Learn more about Special Damages

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim — these vary depending on the situation. The general rule for most personal injury cases* is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the accident* to make a claim for compensation. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Learn more about Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors

We draw on more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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Our friendly and experienced team are waiting to answer your call. Lines are open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

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