Toxic Torts Claim *
A toxic tort is a legal claim made for injuries or illness caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals and substances. The term toxic tort applies to a wide range of materials which can potentially cause an injury or illness to an individual if ingested, inhaled or comes into direct contact with the skin.
These substances and chemicals can come in various forms including liquids, solids, gases, fumes and vapours. These substances are mainly used as industrial equipment and in the manufacturing process of other substances and chemicals. Toxic tort claims * generally arise following an accident at work which are often caused by a breach of duty of care on behalf of the employer. These substances can include;
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
The health and safety of all employees should be a priority at all times throughout the course of their work. This is often the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they are providing a safe and risk-free environment for their staff. As part of these they are required to carry out frequent risk assessments in order to identify any potential hazards in the workplace. The results of these assessments should be given to the employees as this can help to prevent accidents if they are aware of any hazards or issues. As part of this Act there are certain duties which an employer has in relation to ensuring health and safety in the workplace. Failing to follow these duties can result in personal injuries or illnesses being sustained which an employer could be seen as liable for. These duties can include;
- Ensuring that the workplace is suitable for any work that is to be carried out
- Providing adequate training and protective equipment to employees
- Managing activities in a way which prioritises health and safety of employees
- Ensuring that there are preventative measures in place
Although liability is often placed on the employer it is important to note that employees also have a responsibility for ensuring that they work in a safe manner so as to avoid injuries to both themselves and their co-workers.
Common Side Effects on Health
Symptoms and side effects will vary depending on the toxic substance which you have been exposed to but there are some symptoms that are common for all chemicals and materials.
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Irritation of the eyes, mouth and nose
- Stomach pain
- Reduced level of consciousness
Common Causes of Exposure
It is important that all workplaces ensure that they follow all regulations in relation to limits placed on exposure to chemicals and harmful substances. These limits vary depending on the chemical being used. Overexposure can lead to a number of harmful illnesses and employees should not have to work with these materials for long periods of time. Work activities should be varied throughout the day in order to prevent overexposure.
Lack of training
All employees should receive adequate training prior to carrying out their work to ensure that they are aware of safe working practices. Those who work in potentially hazardous environments should be made aware of the risks associated with harmful substances. This can also help to prevent accidents at work.
Inadequate Protective Equipment
Protective equipment should be worn at all times and includes footwear, clothing, glasses, gloves and facial protection. This acts as a protective layer between the employee and toxic chemicals and can prevent injuries such as contact dermatitis and skin irritation. This equipment should be provided by the employer but it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that they wear this equipment.
- Ensure there is ventilation in the workspace
- Provide training and protective equipment
- Ensure regulations are met in relation to exposure limits
- Correctly label all solvents and chemicals
- Monitor air quality on a regular basis
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