Workplace Cancer Claims
All UK employers are legally obliged to abide by national legislation that protects their staff as outlined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Breaches of an employer’s legal obligations to you can have devastating results, particularly in the severity of cancer diagnosis. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have reported that there are more than 13,000 new cases of workplace cancer every year in the UK, with around 8,000 deaths.
When a worker is exposed to dangers such as carcinogens and cancer is subsequently diagnosed, they may be eligible to make a claim against their employer for the illness and any financial losses that they incur as a result.
What can cause workplace cancer?
Causes of cancer in the workplace can be numerous and varied and include carcinogenic gases, vapours and dust. Employees can be subjected to the risks of such substances through inhalation, swallowing or through touching them with uncovered skin. The level of risk associated with such substances is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The organisation specifies whether a substance is ‘definitely’, ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ a carcinogenic and this gives individuals a guideline as to the potential risks posed by exposure.
Every employer is legally obliged to conduct thorough risk assessments of their workplaces and the processes followed by workers. In doing so, they will ascertain what substances can be cancer causing and are then legally required to provide adequate protection for their staff. A breach of this duty of care would make the employer liable for any illnesses or injuries sustained by an employee.
Which jobs are most at risk causing cancer?
Injury solicitors have successfully processed a wide number of workplace cancer claims, and are experienced in assisting victims from a multitude of different industries. The Health and Safety Executive published details that highlighted that the most at risk industry for workplace cancer was construction. Other jobs that are more vulnerable to the risks associated with cancer caused through work include:
- Tyre manufacturers
- Gaswork engineers
- Asbestos workers
- Fuel engineers
No matter which industry you work in or the job that you complete, if you have been diagnosed with cancer because of the neglect of your employer or their breach of their legal duty of care to you, a solicitor will be able to support you in making a claim for compensation.
What type of cancers can be caused in the workplace?
There are a number of cancers which can be caused because of the job or industry than a person works in. The type of cancer diagnosed is likely to be heavily dependent upon the carcinogenic that the worker has been exposed to. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has published data that highlights some of the most common carcinogenic and workplace cancers include:
- Nasopharynx, sinonasal cancers caused by dusts from wood
- Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. Other cancers caused by asbestos include: larynx, lung, ovary, pharynx, colorectum, stomach
- Skin cancers caused through over exposure to the sun
- Silicosis and lung cancer due to exposure to silica dust
- Bladder, lung, sinus and skin cancers caused by metalworking fluids and mineral oils.
- Non-melanoma skin cancers caused by coal tar and pitches
- Arsenic exposure causing bladder, lung and skin cancer
- Naturally produced rado which can cause lung cancer
- Welding which has been linked to lung and eye cancer
- Paint toxins which are known to cause lung and bladder cancer
This is a relatively small list of the type of cancers that can be caused due to the dangers of occupations. However, workplace and industrial injury solicitors are experienced in achieving successful outcomes for a host of other work-related cancers.
How is liability proven for cancers caused by working conditions?
If an employer has failed to meet the requirements outlined in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 and you have been subsequently diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. In order to make a successful claim for workplace cancer, your solicitor must be able to prove that the disease was caused as a direct result of exposure to carcinogens in the workplace. It can be a complex undertaking to prove liability in these instances, as everyday life present us with a host of potential cancer risks.
To demonstrate liability, your solicitor will build up a thorough case including the duties of your job, the working environment, potential other victims and whether your employer complied with laws and regulations to protect your safety. This information will be supported by extensive medical evidence which will demonstrate your diagnosis and prognosis and provide expert confirmation of which cancer you have and it’s likely cause.
Your solicitor will review your medical and work history as this can provide a significant link between the cause of your illness and diagnosis. Some cancers can take several years to appear and so it is also necessary to determine whether you were exposed to risks in previous roles.
Are there time limits for me to make a workplace cancer claim?
Employees who have been diagnosed with a work-related cancer have a time limit of three years from the date of diagnosis in which to initiate a claim for compensation. It may take several years for symptoms of your cancer to become apparent, and so the time limit begins from the date of diagnosis.
Solicitors offer clients an initial no obligation consultation for free, and this allows them to assess your case and answer any questions that you may have about making a claim. Following this evaluation of your case, the solicitor will confirm your eligibility to pursue a settlement and provide you with an estimate of the possible compensation award you could receive.