Lead poisoning can occur through a variety of ways, from ingesting contaminated food and water to coming in contact with polluted air or soil. The most common cause though is through occupational exposure or exposure in the workplace. Lead poisoning is a serious condition and can even be fatal if excessive levels of lead build up in the body.
If you suffer from lead poisoning caused due to your employer’s negligence, you may be legally entitled to file a lead poisoning compensation claim.
Who Is At High Risk For Lead Poisoning?
Although lead has been replaced by safer alternatives in many products, it is still used in several applications. Lead poisoning is rare after a one-time casual exposure to the substance. It usually occurs when someone is exposed to the dust, fumes or vapour that are generated when lead or lead coating is disturbed. This can happen through a variety of industrial processes.
Some of the more common processes that can put workers at risk of lead poisoning include but are not limited to:
- Blast removing old lead paint
- Stripping old lead paint from windows, doors, and other structures
- Spray-painting vehicles with lead-based paints
- Burning old lead paint
- Manufacturing lead-based glass or compounds
- Manufacturing, recycling or breading lead-acid batteries
- Soldering with metallic lead or other alloys that contain lead
- Hot cutting in demolitions or certain dismantling operations
- Recovering lead from waste and scrap
All of these processes generate minute lead particles in the form of dust, fumes or vapour. These minute particles are easily absorbed in the body through inhalation, or by accidentally swallowing small amounts. While a single episode of exposure or ingestion may not cause severe lead toxicity, repeated exposure over a period of time can have severe consequences.
Continued exposure to lead can cause symptoms that range from mild abdominal pains and cramps to severe headaches, fatigue, anaemia, and kidney failure. Exposure to high doses of lead over an extended period of time can even cause severe emergency symptoms such as seizures.
Regulations Regarding Lead Exposure In The Workplace
There are various laws and regulations that have been established over the years to protect employees from harm in the workplace. These include:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
- The Control of Lead at Work (CLAW) Regulation 2002
While the first two cover general health and safety at work guidelines, the last two are focused on occupational exposure to hazardous substances and guidance on controlling exposure to lead at work.
All of the above put the onus of workplace safety on the employer. They emphasise that employers have a duty of care to put safety measures in place to protect their workers from all hazards.
To comply with this legal duty of care, employers are required to carry out a thorough risk assessment of the work environment and accordingly implement appropriate health and safety measures to minimise the risks. If an employee suffers from lead poisoning due to employer negligence with regard to their duty of care then the employee could make a lead poisoning compensation claim against them.
With regards to lead exposure, some of these health and safety measures can include but are not limited to:
- Ensuring that all workers undergo initial and ongoing training in handling lead-based substances, with a focus on minimising exposure
- Fitting indoor work spaces with adequate ventilation to prevent build-up of lead in the atmosphere
- Providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment such as face masks, safety goggles, and gloves
- Installing appropriate storage facilities for all hazardous substances
- Conducting routine blood level testing for workers
- Developing guidelines and procedures for workers to follow when handling lead-based products
- Ensuring that effective medical treatment is available and easily accessible in the event of accidental exposure to lead
If your employer failed in any aspect of their duty of care, and you developed the symptoms of lead poisoning as a result, you should explore your legal right to claim compensation for lead poisoning.
Making A Lead Poisoning Compensation Claim
If you’ve been diagnosed with lead poisoning, your first priority should be to heed your doctor’s orders to mitigate the long-term effects of the poisoning on your health. The next thing to do is to get in touch with a personal injury solicitor if you believe your employer is at fault for you suffering from lead poisoning.
You no doubt know that you can find a personal injury solicitor to represent you without any financial risk and without having to pay any upfront fees. Most solicitors offer a no-obligation complimentary first consultation. During this consultation, they can discuss with you why you believe your employer is at fault, what evidence you may have to help support your claim as well as any medical reports to assess the merits of your case. If you have a strong lead poisoning claim, solicitors will likely offer to take your claim on on a No Win No Fee basis.
No Win No Fee agreements were introduced as a way to offer legal and financial assistance to no-fault accident victims. According to the terms of typical No Win No Fee agreements, your personal injury solicitor will cover all legal costs associated with your until your claim is settled.
In our case you would pay a success fee only if your lead poisoning claim is successful and compensation is awarded for your injuries. This success fee is calculated as a set percentage of the compensation awarded to you. You are not liable to pay any fees if the claim is unsuccessful.
How Much Compensation For A Lead Poisoning Claim?
Lead poisoning compensation is not a fixed amount and is determined on a per case basis. The exact amount of compensation you can expect to receive will depend on the severity of your injuries, the ongoing and projected long-term cost of medical treatments, pain and suffering, loss of income, cost of home care (where applicable) and other expenses related to mobility aids or structural changes necessary to accommodate your injuries. While calculating the compensation amount to ask for, your solicitor may consult with other legal and medical experts and Judicial College guidelines in order to determine the maximum amount to ask for.
One important thing to remember is that lead poisoning claims must be filed within three years of the poisoning or three years from the date of diagnosis. This makes it all the more urgent to get in touch with a solicitor as early as possible so that you can take the time to recover from the effects of the poisoning, while also giving the solicitor sufficient time to put together a strong lead poisoning compensation claim on your behalf.