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Compensation for Chemical Injury at Work

Can compensation for chemical injury at work be claimed if protective clothing was provided that was substandard? I suffered chemical burns to my hands due to poor quality safety gloves.

Question:

Can compensation for chemical injury at work be claimed if protective clothing was provided that was substandard? I suffered chemical burns to my hands due to poor quality safety gloves.

Answer:

Substandard or worn safety gloves do not provide an appropriate level of protection, and compensation for chemical injury at work can be claimed if you have been injured as a result of poor quality health and safety equipment or clothing provided by an employer.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974) states that not only must employers ensure protective equipment and clothing be supplied as appropriate, but also that they are maintained and kept in good working order. Compensation for chemical injury at work claims can be made when an employer fails in his duty of care to protect workers, and providing substandard health and safety equipment or failing to replace it is classed as a failure in a duty of care to ensure your personal safety in the workplace. Faulty control measures can pose even more of a risk than if the measures do not exist, as they offer a false sense of security to employees.

Employers that use dangerous chemicals in the workplace need to be particularly vigilant with regards to health and safety procedures, due to the high risk of injury to employees. They must conduct regular inspections and risk assessments to ensure that potential causes of injury are kept to the minimum possible level. Under The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), an employer is also duty bound to conduct regular meetings with staff to ensure that working practices are in accordance with these regulations, and to allow workers to voice any concerns.

The onus on health and safety lies with an employer; however employees must also take responsibility for their own personal safety and that of their work colleagues. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974) covers employee responsibilities, which includes monitoring of health and safety issues in the workplace and highlighting any concerns to their employer. Faulty control measures such as damaged or substandard protective clothing must be brought to an employer’s attention to ensure it can be replaced. Failing do so may jeopardise an employee’s right to claim compensation for chemical injury at work. If a complaint is made, an employer must be given a reasonable time frame in which to replace faulty equipment. However, when dangerous chemicals need to be handled and cannot be done so safely, work must cease until the risk to employees has been reduced.

Many employers start out in compliance with health and safety regulations, but fail to make regular checks to ensure that standards do not lapse. Should an injury be sustained by a worker due to a breach in health and safety regulations – as appears to be the case in your situation – then the employer in question will be deemed to have been negligent and will be liable to pay chemical injury at work compensation to cover any injuries sustained. In such cases, a claim for compensation for chemical injury at work would be made against his employer’s liability insurance policy.

In your case, compensation for chemical injury at work claims can be made if your employer has failed to replace damaged health and safety equipment and clothing, or has not provided equipment of an appropriate standard. Gloves used for protection against chemicals must comply with British Standards rating BS EN 374. If this is not the case, your employer has placed you at excessive risk of injury, and you will certainly be able to claim compensation for chemical injury at work.

If you were aware that your gloves were substandard and did not offer the correct level of protection, it would be your responsibility to highlight this to your employer. Your employer´s insurance company may contest a claim if no complaint was made to an employer about faulty safety gloves. The experience of a work injury compensation solicitor is invaluable when chemical injury at work claims are contested, or when liability is denied. A solicitor will ensure that the strongest possible case is presented to help maximise the chances of making a successful chemical injury compensation claim.