Industrial Disease. Everything you need to know

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1 Industrial Disease Everything you need to know

2 The phrase industrial disease is often thrown about in the workplace, on the internet or in the news. It creates an image of a dirty, heavy duty industrial environment and workers labouring under perilous conditions of health and safety. But the phrase is so much more than that which begs the question: What is an industrial disease? This booklet aims to assist families understand the effects of industrial disease and explain what they can do to seek redress.

3 An industrial disease is an insidious condition arising over the course of many weeks, months or even years of exposure to a pattern of work, substance, equipment or energy of some sort which ultimately results in illness or injury to the worker concerned. A worker can suffer from industrial disease in premises as diverse as construction sites, factories, workshops, mills, warehouses or office blocks, to name but a few. Typical examples of industrial diseases include: Asbestos related illness Vibration white finger Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus Work related upper limb disorder Carpal tunnel syndrome Tennis and Golfer s elbow Tenosynovitis Chronic back pain due to heavy lifting Repetitive strain injury Dermatitis Asthma Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

4 Your Rights If you suffer from an industrial disease you may be entitled to compensation. You will have to prove that you have an identifiable disease or injury which has been caused or rendered painful by your work and that in doing so your employer has breached its duty of care towards you i.e. your employer is at fault. How do I prove my employer is at fault? There are several Regulations which are designed to protect workers from the effects of high exposures to vibration, asbestos, noise, heavy lifting and toxic gases or substances. Your employer is under duties by virtue of these Regulations to ensure your work and work equipment is appropriately risk assessed, whether you are working on site or not. In certain circumstances you also have rights to request health and safety information about the work you are doing, what you are exposed to and what effect it can have upon you. If they have not done either, your employer may have breached their duty of care towards you which may cause you injury or illness. How do I know whether my work has caused my injuries and illness? What if my employer has gone out of business? Even if your employer has gone out of business you may still be able to claim. Most claims are paid by employer s liability insurance, which has been compulsory for all employers since It is possible to trace insurers and at EAD we have a database designed specifically for that purpose. Once the insurance has been traced your solicitor can restore your employer and put them back into existence for the purposes of your claim and obtain compensation from your employer s insurers if successful..and remember Whatever you do, consult a solicitor as soon as possible! Many of the industrial diseases listed above have multiple causes. For example, in addition to noise, hearing loss and tinnitus can be caused by ear infections, head injuries, side effects of some medicines and stress. Specialist expert evidence will be required to find out what is causing your condition and in particular whether it is related to your work. It is important that if you think you have an injury or illness as a result of your work to report it to your manager, record it in the accident book and go to see your doctor.

5 Seeking Legal Advice Industrial disease is a very complex area of law which requires particular knowledge and expertise. At EAD, we have specialised solicitors to protect your rights. As there is much investigative work to do to prove your claim and there are strict time limits for bringing claims it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Your solicitor will gather evidence from your doctor and hospital, proof of your employment, interview witnesses, establish insurance and corporate solvency and obtain advice from medical experts, engineering experts and if need be barristers. Your case will usually take between 12 and 24 months although the varying nature of industrial disease claims is such that sometimes your case may be finished more quickly than this. Sometimes it may take longer if there are particular complications, which your solicitor will explain to you. It is therefore important to seek legal advice as soon as possible by consulting a solicitor.

6 Compensation As industrial diseases vary in their effects so too does the compensation. On one hand malignant mesothelioma, a particularly unpleasant asbestos related illness from which there is no recovery often attracts awards of damages in excess of 100,000 whereas a repetitive strain injury which causes pain for a short period of time before your employer moves you to less strenuous work may be limited in compensation to a few thousand pounds. Whatever your case at EAD you can be sure you will receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries. As well as compensation for your pain and suffering you can claim for miscellaneous losses and expenses incurred as a result of your condition. Such losses include: Past and potential future loss of earnings Loss of pension rights Private treatment fees Cost of medical expenses Purchase and maintenance cost of hearing aids Cost of specialist equipment Care and services provided either by your family or by a professional Travelling expenses An important consideration in your case is how your injuries may affect you if you were ever to lose your job. In certain circumstances we can claim for the disadvantage you may suffer trying to get new work if there is a risk you were to be made redundant.

7 Time Limits Your employer will almost always challenge your claim on the basis it is out of time. There are strict time limits for bringing claims. Broadly speaking you have 3 years from the date your condition becomes symptomatic and you are aware that your condition is because of work or the judge decides you should have been aware that your condition is because of work. As many industrial diseases can take months or even years to develop, it is best to seek legal advice as early as possible. It is always best to seek legal advice as soon as you notice your condition. Once your solicitor is in possession of all the evidence in your case it is usually possible to advise you how likely it is that your case is in time or if not whether a judge may allow your case to proceed notwithstanding that it is not in time. What happens next? Your first step should always be to report your concerns to your employer, record your condition in the accident book and visit your doctor. The next and most important step is to contact a solicitor. They will provide you with the appropriate form to fill in or assist you complete the form on-line. You will then, receive a letter from EAD thanking you for instructing us to assist you. You will be asked to sign several documents including authorities for release of important information relevant to your case. In the meantime you will be contacted by a solicitor who will attend your house workplace or a local café at your convenience to take a full statement in support of your claim. Your solicitor will then discuss with you the next steps required to prove your case. They will be available at any time to discuss your claim by telephone or .

8 Frequently asked questions How do I prove my employer is at fault? There are several Regulations which are designed to protect workers from the effects of high exposures to vibration, asbestos, noise, heavy lifting and toxic gases or substances. Your employer is under duties by virtue of these Regulations to ensure your work and work equipment is appropriately risk assessed, whether you are working on site or not. In certain circumstances you also have rights to request health and safety information about the work you are doing, what you are exposed to and what effect it can have upon you. If they have not done either, your employer may have breached their duty of care towards you which may cause you injury or illness. How do I know whether my work has caused my injuries and illness? Many of the industrial diseases listed above have multiple causes. For example, in addition to noise hearing loss and tinnitus can be caused by ear infections, head injuries, side effects of some medicines and stress. Specialist expert evidence will be required to find out what is causing your condition and in particular whether it is related to your work. It is important that if you think you have an injury or illness as a result of your work to report it to your manager, record it in the accident book and go to see your doctor.

9 What if my employer has gone out of business? Even if your employer has gone out of business you may still be able to claim. Most claims are paid by employer s liability insurance, which has been compulsory for all employers since It is possible to trace insurers and at EAD we have a database designed specifically for that purpose. Once the insurance has been traced your solicitor can restore your employer and put them back into existence for the purposes of your claim and obtain compensation from your employer s insurers if successful. I have been diagnosed with an industrial disease. How long do I have to make a claim? How long will it take? We aim to deal with all claims as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many claims are resolved within 9-12 months and we aim to deal with all claims within 24 months of first instruction. There will sometimes be complicating factors which may take additional time to unravel, for instance if you have worked for a lot of employers or if insurance details prove difficult to trace. However you can rest assured that at EAD our expert team will identify the issues as quickly and efficiently as possible and keep you fully informed along the way. More FAQ s can be found on our website Many employers will challenge a claim on the basis that it is out of time. There are strict time limits for bringing claims. Broadly speaking you have 3 years from the date your condition becomes symptomatic and you are aware that your condition is because of your work, or the judge decides your condition is because of your work. It is best to seek legal advice as soon as you notice your condition. Once your solicitor is in possession of all the evidence in your case it is usually possible to advise you how likely it is that your case is in time or if not, whether a judge may allow your claim to proceed anyway. At EAD we have successfully persuaded judges to set aside the usual time limits on many occasions.

10 It s your right! A claim for injuries due to industrial disease is complex and fraught with difficulty. At EAD we specialise in maximising your compensation. If you have any queries arising from this booklet you should not hesitate to contact Paul Currie who will be happy to assist you and point you in the right direction. So if you are a victim of industrial disease, consult a solicitor immediately. It s your right to seek compensation today.

11 Useful Contact Information Paul Currie

12 If you have any questions about anything in this leaflet please call us on Alternatively please EAD Solicitors LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England (registered number OC334289) and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (487037). A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office Prospect House, Columbus Quay, Liverpool, L3 4DB, together with a list of those non-members who are designated as partners. Any reference to a partner in relation to the LLP means a member or employee of, or consultant to, the LLP.

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