Compensation claims for chemical burn injuries are thankfully quite rare however when a chemical burn injury occurs it can often be incredibly painful and in some instances life changing.
Symptoms from different chemical burn injuries vary with different chemicals but like regular fire or heat burns they can often cause severe tissue damage.
While some chemicals will cause only minor discomfort and itching to the skin, certain chemicals are destructive enough to burn and corrode the skin leaving permanent damage and scarring and in some cases can be fatal.
Chemicals that can cause burn injuries include:
- Hydrochloric Acid
- Sulphuric Acid
- Hydrofluoric Acid
- Dimethyl Sulphate
- Lime (calcium oxide)
- Lye (sodium hydroxide)
- Silver Nitrate
- Sulphur Mustard
It is imperative that labels on bottles containing harmful chemicals are correct and clear to read.
Unlike regular burn injuries, chemical burns can also be inhaled and ingested. Chemicals can also cause severe damage and in some cases complete loss of sight when they come into contact with the eyes.
If you believe your employers’ negligence or carelessness has led to you or someone you know sustaining a chemical burn injury you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
By law every employer in the UK has to provide:
- A safe working environment
- A ‘duty of care’ to their employees
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Provision and use of work equipment (PUWER)
- Training to employees
- Adhere to Health & Safety regulations
- Hold employers liability insurance to cover the cost of an injury claim against them.
If a chemical burn or any other personal injury is suffered at work because an employer has failed to follow the above requirements then potentially they will be liable for any claim made against them.
You may also be entitled to make a personal injury claim if you have suffered a chemical burn injury whilst not at work if you have used a product that was faulty or had incorrect instructions on how to use the product.
Internal Chemical Burns
Not all chemical burns are associated with external visible burn injuries. If chemical fumes are breathed in they can harm the lungs and give rise to chemical pneumonitis. This can be caused from breathing in fumes from fertilisers, pesticides, chlorine gas (from chlorine bleach).
It is therefore vitally important to use the correct personal protective equipment when working with chemicals such as a face mask to prevent chemicals from being breathed in and causing significant injuries.
The effects of chemical pneumonitis can be acute or chronic. Chest pain, difficulty breathing and coughing can be symptomatic of acute chemical pneumonitis. Respiratory illness is more continual and probable with chronic pneumonitis.
Over exposure to certain chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, coke and coal fumes, diesel fumes to name just a few are thought to be responsible for lung cancer.
Although it is not known specifically how much these types of chemicals raise the chance of lung cancer as it is difficult to define the exact cause, if unsafe work practices have been used it be worth investigating whether or not there is potentially a compensation claim to be made.
There are many ways in which harmful chemicals can cause personal injury. Chemicals can enter the body if contaminated mucus coughed up from the lungs is swallowed. Chemicals can also be ingested from contaminated food or our hands when they come into contact with the mouth.
How to protect from chemical burn
It is extremely important when working with hazardous chemicals that you are wearing personal protective equipment which should be provided by your employer.
Blindness can result when certain chemicals come into contact with the eyes. They can damage the cornea beyond repair and cause immense pain.
Chemicals can cause blindness if they get in the eyes. They can corrode the front part of the eye (the cornea) and cause considerable pain.
Goggles that cover the entire eyes are necessary when working with chemicals that emit harmful gases or could possibly splash. Similarly a mask that covers the nose and mouth should be worn. It may even be necessary to wear a mask that covers the entire face for suitable protection. Wearing suitable eye and hand protection also prevents chemical injury being suffered if they eyes or face is accidentally rubbed with the hands or gloves when working with toxic substances.
Correct gloves made from neoprene or nitrile should also be worn as latex gloves whilst good for preventing bacterial contamination they are prone to tearing so are unsuitable for handling dangerous and corrosive chemicals.
Heavy duty rubber aprons should also be worn to protect against spillage and splashes, together with heavy-duty boots.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of working with insufficient or even no personal protective equipment which should have been provided by your employer there could be a strong possibility that you would be entitled to make a compensation claim for the injury you have suffered.
Jobs with a high risk of chemical burns
Those working in the industrial sector are most at risk from a chemical burn injury. Mining, medicine and chemical fabrication are also industries where workers are at a higher risk of injury from chemicals.
Regardless of whether or not you work in a high risk are, anyone that could potentially come into contact with a harmful chemical, even everyday bleach should be given the correct instruction, training, safety gear and a safe working environment. These are the legal responsibilities of all employers in the UK.
Chemical burn injury compensation
Our specialist personal injury solicitors have years of experience dealing with injury claims caused by the negligence or carelessness of employers who have failed to provide a safe workplace for their employees.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a chemical spillage then please contact us today. You will receive completely free advice from a qualified solicitor with no obligation to proceed with a claim if you don’t want to.
Our solicitors will be able to assess your compensation claim and if there are grounds to make a claim for any injuries you have suffered they will be able to handle every aspect of the claim at no cost to you.