Toluene Exposure Claim *
What is Toluene?
Toluene, also known as methylbenzene and phenyl methane, is an aromatic hydrocarbon which is a mono-substituted benzene derivative. It is used in a number of commercial and industrial environments and is often used as a solvent in paints, lacquers, glues, thinners and leather tanning processes. It is also one of the chemicals which can be found in cigarettes. Overexposure over a longer period of time can impact the brain and nervous systems. When handled correctly Toluene may not be toxic and can be safe to use. Exposure to Toluene can occur in a single incident or over time on numerous occasions.
Health and Safety in the Workplace
Toluene is mainly used in the workplace in a number of industries and claims made generally follow a workplace accident. As a result of this, health and safety in the workplace should be a priority and preventative measures should be in place to ensure that no illnesses are developed as a result of this. The main legislation in Ireland which provides for this is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. This outlines the duties which an employer has to ensure that employees are safe throughout the course of their work. These duties include;
- Providing a safe working environment which is practical for the work that is to be carried out
- Managing activities in a way which prioritises health and safety
- Ensuring employees have received adequate training
If these duties are not carried out the risk of injuries being sustained becomes higher. For those who work with harmful chemicals it is important that employees are aware of the potential risks associated with this prior to carrying out their work. This can also help to prevent these types of accidents. Employers should also carry out a risk assessment to determine which areas of the job create hazards for employees. These can then be eliminated and dealt with before an accident occurs. Employees should also be made aware of the results of these assessments.
Toluene Exposure Limits
The Code of Practice for Agent Regulations 2011 outlines the various limits of harmful substances or chemicals in the workplace bases on a period of time. This is bases on long and short term exposure.
Long Term Exposure: This is an average of 8 hours exposure at one time. The limit for this time period is 50 ppm (parts per million).
Short Term Exposure: This is based on a much shorter time of 15 minutes and is limited at 100 ppm (parts per million).
Side Effects of Toluene Exposure
- Breathing difficulties
- Occupational asthma
- Inflammation of the throat, lungs and mouth
- Chronic fatigue
- Kidney, liver and lung damage
- Mood Swings
- Blindness, deafness and paralysis
Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE includes footwear, clothing, glasses, gloves and facial protection and it should be worn at all times to ensure the health and safety of employees during their work. Failing to wear this equipment can lead to various injuries and illnesses. It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that they wear this equipment at all times.
Lack of Training
Employees who may be working with Toluene should be trained and made aware of the possible risks associated with this substance. It is also important that they are aware of some preventative measures as this can help to reduce the risk of an accident occurring. It is important that employees attend all training that is provided to them by their employer.
Workplaces who work with harmful chemicals and materials should ensure that they are following regulations in relation to the exposure limits. These limits will vary depending on the chemical which is being used. Overexposure is one of the leading causes of industrial illness so it is important that employees are given adequate rest breaks throughout the day. Working activities should also be varied to ensure that one individual is not spending too much time in a contaminated environment.
There are a number of steps which can be taken by an employer to help prevent exposure to Toluene in the workplace. This includes;
- Installing suitable ventilation systems to remove toxic fumes and dust from the work environment
- Monitoring air quality
- Correctly labelling solvent and substance containers
- Training all staff on safe practices in the workplace
- Provide separate areas for work clothing to prevent cross contamination
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
If you would like to find out more information on this topic or the claims processed involved you can contact our solicitors on 01 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
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