Accident at Work*

Welding Accident and Illness Claims*

Welding illness claims* have been made by those who have been welding as part of their job and have not been provided with the correct personal protective equipment to prevent the onset of certain illnesses. If it is not carried out properly workplace accidents, illnesses and injuries can occur.

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The Right Protective Measures

Welding is the process of forging together metals with the use of intense heat. If fumes are emitted during the process they can be inhaled which will lead to the development of an illness over time. This is the main cause of welding related illnesses*. Welding is a very high-risk activity but accidents can be prevented if the right protective measures are put in place. Welders should ensure that they have all of the right equipment needed to carry out their job correctly and safely. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that each employee has been given the correct training and protective equipment in order to ensure their health and safety in the workplace. Welders should be provided with the right clothing, gloves and mask to ensure that the chances of inhaling harmful fumes are reduced.

Types of Welding

There are several different types of welding all used for different metals and each come with its own set of accident risks if not used correctly or if the employer has not given correct protective equipment and/or training. Some of the most common are:

  • Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding
  • Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)
  • Arc Welding
  • Submerged Arc Welding (SAW)
  • Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) – aka. Stick Welding
  • Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIGW)
  • Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
  • Electroslag Welding (ESW)
  • Atomic Hydrogen Welding (AHW)
  • Carbon Arc Welding (CAW)
  • Electrogas Welding (EGW)

Who is Liable?

It can be difficult to determine who is liable for a welding illness or accident at work*. In many cases, it will either be the employer or an employee who is at fault.

If an employer does not provide the correct equipment and training and as a result, an accident occurs, then they will be liable for any illness or injury. Employers have a duty of care to ensure the safety of all staff throughout the course of their work. If this is breached there is more risk of accidents. In order for an employer to be seen as liable for an accident in the workplace, it will have to be shown that they acted in a negligent manner and failed to show a reasonable duty of care to their employees.

Employees can also be liable for an accident at work* if they have acted in a negligent manner. All staff within a company are required to attend any training provided to them and should ensure that they wear the protective gear supplied by an employer. If an employee acts in an unsafe manner throughout the course of their job then it will be likely that they will be responsible for an accident if one was to happen. If it can be shown that an employer has shown a reasonable duty of care to employees who have acted negligently then it will be the employees who will be seen as liable.

If an illness develops as a result of a manufacturing defect then the company who supplied the equipment will be seen as responsible and liable for the accident and injury.

Common Illnesses

The type of illness that you can develop as a result of welding depends on the metals which are used. Different metals will emit different toxic fumes which each have different symptoms and illnesses associated with them. The most common illnesses include;

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the name given to the infection that inflames the lungs. Welders are more at risk of developing this illness as they are working with toxic and poisonous fumes. Symptoms develop over a number of weeks and include a headache, fatigue and a cough.

Chronic Bronchitis

This is a type of pulmonary disease and it is the inflammation of the airways. This leads on to shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Breathing in hazardous fumes or dust over an extended period of time is a common cause of this.

Occupational Asthma

In Ireland, this is not a very common illness that is associated with welding. Each year, a number of people employed as welders develop asthma but there is not enough evidence to say that this is a direct cause of inhaling fumes. If occupational asthma is developed it usually occurs over a longer period of time as a result of overexposure and inhaling the fumes from certain metals.

Cancer

Fumes from welding can be seen as a possible carcinogenic to people which can lead to the development of cancer. This is primarily associated with those who work with stainless steel but it is not limited to just these fumes.

Metal Fume Fever

This is an illness that is very similar to the flu. This fever does not have any long-term effects and will disappear naturally over time. Symptoms include nausea, fever and headaches.

Manganism

Manganese poisoning is a toxic condition which is caused by overexposure to the chemical. This illness affects the central nervous system and kidneys. Manganism is also known as welders Parkinson’s disease. The illness can lead to psychological issues, speech difficulties, poor motor skills and facial movement problems.

Welding can also cause injuries to the face. If a welder is affected by radiation it can lead to burns and eye injuries. This is usually caused by the lack of protective equipment and clothing.

Other Welding Accident Claims*

While illness is a serious risk when welding without the correct protective equipment, welding can also cause other types of injuries if not carried out correctly. Other welding injury claims have been:

Burns

For those welding without the correct facial protection, the risk of injury to the face via a burn is increased. The employer is responsible to ensure that their welders are supplied with the correct equipment but the employee is also responsible for using the equipment as it was intended.

Welders are also required to wear certain clothing – for example, leather boots and trousers that fit over the boot – this is to avoid any molten metal from dripping into their shoes. If a welder is wearing the wrong boots, ones that leave a gap open for molten metal to drip into their shoes, it will either be the fault of the employer for not training/providing the correct protective gear or fault of the employee for ignoring the training or refusing to wear the protective gear.

Eye Injuries

If not provided with or not wearing facial and eye protection while welding a welder could suffer an eye injury where a welding spark jumps into the welder’s eye. This is avoidable if the welder is provided with and wears protective eye equipment.

Also, for those who have worked with welding for many years may notice that their eyesight has deteriorated. This is due to maintaining focus on the bright lights that are emitted as the sparks are produced during the process. Prolonged exposure to these bright lights can have an effect on a person’s sight in the long term.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss or ‘industrial deafness’ is also a risk for welders who have been working with welding for many years. The noise emitted by the welding equipment is generally high and prolonged exposure to this noise could lead to occupational deafness or hearing issues, such as tinnitus. This can be avoided if the welder is wearing protective equipment such as ear protectors. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide the welder with this equipment.

Causes

  • Lack of training
  • Inadequate protective equipment
  • Electrical Hazards
  • Fires
  • Overexposure to hazardous fumes and gases

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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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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