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Chemical Burn Injury Claims

Chemical burns can be a very painful and life-debilitating condition that can also lead to disfigurement and disability. Many chemical burn injuries occur within the workplace and industries like construction and manufacturing are particularly at risk.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their workers from injuries within the workplace. If you have suffered from a chemical burn, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation if your employer or another third party was to blame.

Who is at risk of a chemical burn injury?

Effectively anyone who works with or near chemicals is at risk of sustaining a chemical burn injury. This risk is considerably increased if regulations aren’t properly observed. However, some industries and employees are at a higher risk because of their exposure and frequency of use of chemicals. This includes industries such as:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Science laboratories
  • Cleaning industries
  • Agriculture and farming

Risks are minimised if the employer carries out regular assessments of the workplace and adheres to the health and safety regulations as they are legally required to.

Compensation that is awarded in chemical burns injury claims can support a victim through their recovery. Settlement awards may go some way to replacing lost income, cost of treatments, physical and emotional implications and travel costs as well as the expenses associated with care.

What is a chemical burn?

A chemical burns injury is caused by chemicals coming into direct contact with a person’s skin or eyes. This can occur through accidents, spillages, poor training or ineffective personal protective wear. Some of the most common types of chemicals that lead to a chemical burn injury claim include:

  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sulphuric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Ammonia

These chemicals are found in numerous processes and manufacturing methods as well as in everyday items throughout the home. Domestic items are normally produced with much safer levels of such chemicals. Industrial products are likely to be stronger and therefore more harmful if accidents occur.

Some of the common products that contain dangerous chemicals and are used regularly by many people include the following:

  • Bleach
  • Detergents
  • Car battery acids
  • Fertilisers
  • Concrete
  • Industrial cleaners
  • Dentistry fluids

Symptoms of a Chemical Burn Injury

Depending on the severity of the injury sustained, a chemical burn can lead to multiple symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms presented in claims for chemical burns injuries include:

  • Skin discolouration, often black in severe burns
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Loss of feeling and numbness
  • Mobility and functionality issues
  • Redness, itching and burning sensations

When a chemical burn causes an eye injury, the vision can be lost or severely impaired.

If a dangerous chemical is inhaled or ingested, the injury and damage can occur internally, with organs, tissues and systems affected. This can lead to breathing complications, heart problems and seizures.

Who is liable for chemical burns injuries?

The liability for a chemical burn injury that you have suffered will depend upon where you sustained the injury and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Employees who sustain a chemical burn in the workplace may be entitled to make a claim against their employer. This will be the case if it can be proven that the employer breached their duty of care, which caused the injury.

There are several pieces of legislation and guidelines that employers are legally required to follow to protect their staff and prevent potentially dangerous chemicals from causing injuries. The legislation includes:

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – This Act sets out an employer’s general responsibilities to their staff. The aim of the Act is to ensure there are adequate health and safety considerations made in the workplace. This includes the employer’s duty to carry out regular risk assessments and implementing adequate safety measures to minimise dangers.

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) – The guidelines set out in this legislation relate to substances that are manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities that are more than one tonne in weight.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 – This Act offers more specific guidelines on the use, storage and management of dangerous chemicals and substances for employers. Under this Act, employers are legally required to:

  • Conduct regular risk assessments
  • Provide staff with PPE
  • Store, transport and maintain chemicals safely
  • Clean up after the use of substances
  • Give thorough training to employees on the use, handling and maintenance of dangerous substances.