In this guide, we will explain how to claim for carbon monoxide poisoning at work. Carbon monoxide is a gas that’s released when fuels like gas, coal, oil and wood aren’t burned completely. When inhaled, it can cause serious illness and, in some cases, be fatal.
If you work in any role where you might be at risk of carbon monoxide exposure, your employer must take steps to protect you. If they don’t, you could seek damages for any suffering that results. Where you or a loved one have been made ill by carbon monoxide poisoning at work, we could help you claim.
Accident Claims can provide free legal advice during a no-obligation review of your claim. If your case appears to have the grounds to proceed, we could introduce you to one of our specialist solicitors.
They’ve got a great deal of experience in helping clients with accident at work claims. Importantly, you only need to pay them for their work if you’re compensated if they offer representation on a No Win No Fee basis. That means you can claim for any physical or psychological injuries without having to pay your solicitor upfront.
If are ready to make a claim today, why not call one of our advisors on 0800 073 8801? Alternatively, please continue reading to learn more about your options.
Select A Section
- A Guide On Claims For Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work
- What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work?
- Statistics – Carbon Monoxide Use And Exposure
- How Could You Be Exposed To Carbon Monoxide In The Workplace?
- Signs And Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Treatment
- What Is The Effect Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- Who Is At Risk Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work?
- How Could Employers Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work?
- What Should You Do If You Are Exposed To Carbon Monoxide?
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work Compensation Calculator
- What Other Damages Can You Claim?
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work No Win No Fee Claims
- Why Choose Our Team For A Claim Against Your Employer?
- Get In Touch
- Read More
- Frequently Asked Questions
A Guide On Claims For Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work
Carbon monoxide is a dangerous substance that can result in brain injuries, chest injuries and, in some cases, death. Employers must try to prevent their employees from being exposed to it wherever possible.
In the workplace, you are owed a duty of care by your employer. That means they should take reasonable steps to protect your health and safety. This is something that’s required by law.
Legislation that applies to carbon monoxide poisoning at work includes:
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). This law means that employers must protect staff from the risks of carbon monoxide.
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This states that there is a “duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of all staff.
As a result of this legislation, if you sustain carbon monoxide poisoning at work because your employer didn’t take steps to protect you, it may be possible to seek damages for your injuries.
Throughout this guide, we’ll explain what employers could do to reduce any risks. We’ll also look at what compensation could cover and how much you could be paid. If you are considering claiming for the effects of carbon monoxide, you should do so within the time limit. This is generally three years, but some exceptions do apply. Find out more by getting in touch with our friendly advisors.
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work?
When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it goes into your bloodstream. It then interacts with the haemoglobin, which is the bit of your red blood cells that transport oxygen around your body. When it does, it forms carboxyhaemoglobin.
This stops the blood from being able to transport oxygen around your body. Without a supply of oxygen, the cells and tissue that make up the body begin to die.
In terms of claiming compensation for illness caused by exposure to carbon monoxide at work, you’ll need to show that:
- You were owed a duty of care by your employer;
- Your employer breached their duty of care towards you because they were negligent; and
- As a result of that negligence, you suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
Statistics – Carbon Monoxide Use And Exposure
Between 2011 and 2019, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there were deaths caused by accidental exposure to carbon monoxide.
While these figures don’t reveal any workplace fatalities in that period, they also don’t include the number of non-fatal injuries either. Therefore, we have included the ONS figures in the graph below for reference.
How Could You Be Exposed To Carbon Monoxide In The Workplace?
Carbon monoxide is released when fuel is not fully burned. This can happen when oil, wood, petrol and gas are used as fuel. The odourless and invisible gas can also be released by vehicles, furnaces, stoves, fireplaces and lanterns, amongst other things.
One reason why carbon monoxide may be released is if any equipment used in the burning process is not maintained properly. For example, if you have a poorly maintained boiler, this could produce harmful carbon monoxide.
Another example is where a chimney or flue is blocked so that the dangerous gas cannot be expelled from the premises. This means that it builds up inside and becomes a risk to anybody working there.
Maintaining equipment is just one thing that employers can do to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning at work. We’ll look at what else can be done to help prevent accidents at work later on.
Signs And Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In this section, we’ve included the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning for your information. According to the NHS, the main symptoms include:
- Nausea or being sick.
- A feeling of dizziness.
- Confusion and tiredness.
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
- Stomach pain.
If you have only been exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide, you may experience symptoms similar to flu. However, this won’t include a raised temperature.
Where low-level exposure occurs over a long period, your symptoms might get worse. This could mean you might:
- Find it difficult to concentrate or think.
- Suffer from depression, irritability or make irrational decisions.
When exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide, the symptoms can be more severe. You could suffer with:
- An impaired mental state or change in your personality.
- Loss of coordination.
- Vertigo (where everything appears to be spinning).
- Tachycardia (a heartbeat of 100bpm or more) and breathlessness.
- Chest pain.
- Muscle spasms.
- Loss of consciousness.
If you are concerned that you’re suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, you should seek immediate treatment. If you have been exposed to low levels, then you should make an appointment with your GP, according to the NHS. In the event that you believe you have been exposed to high levels, you should go to A&E.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Treatment
If you visit A&E, a blood test will be carried out to check the volume of carboxyhaemoglobin in your body. If the result shows a carboxyhaemoglobin level of more than 30%, it indicates that you have suffered exposure to severely dangerous levels.
To treat exposure to carbon monoxide, 100% oxygen is administered through a tight-fitting mask. This will carry on until the level of carboxyhaemoglobin reduces to less than 10%.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is another treatment option, but this is less commonly offered because there is not enough evidence that it is effective long-term in treating severe carbon monoxide poisoning. It involves flooding the body with pure oxygen, and the use is decided on a case-by-case basis.
What Is The Effect Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
There are three main risks involved with exposure to carbon monoxide, according to the NHS. They are:
- Brain damage. As a result of carbon monoxide exposure, you could suffer vision loss, hearing loss and memory problems. You could also find it difficult to concentrate.
- Heart disease. In cases where your exposure to carbon monoxide has happened over a longer period of time, you could be at risk of developing coronary heart disease. This is where the build-up of atheroma (fatty substances) build up in the arteries and interrupts the supply of blood to the heart.
- Harm to unborn babies. There are some risks to unborn babies who have been exposed to carbon monoxide. It can cause a low birth weight or behavioural problems. In severe cases, carbon monoxide could lead to stillbirth.
Who Is At Risk Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work?
There are several job roles and industries where the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is higher. They include jobs where you have to use petrol-powered equipment or equipment using liquified petroleum gas in an enclosed space. You might also be at risk if you have to refurbish buildings in a way that disrupts ventilation systems. Furthermore, because carbon monoxide can be released by vehicles, using a vehicle in a poorly ventilated space could lead to exposure.
Examples of job roles that could lead you to be exposed to carbon monoxide include:
- Welders and mechanics.
- Motorway workers.
- Forklift drivers.
- Factory workers.
- Gas engineers.
You might be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning at work, even if you don’t work in one of the industries listed above. For instance, you could work as a teacher where there is a gas leak from a boiler in the staff room.
How Could Employers Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work?
As part of their duty of care towards employee safety, there are many things employers are expected to do to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Some examples include:
- Installing carbon monoxide detectors and checking they work regularly.
- Ensure there is effective ventilation in areas at risk.
- Train staff on safe working practices and the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure.
- Ban the use of fuel-powered equipment in areas without ventilation.
- Consider using compressed air or batteries to power equipment rather than fuel-burning devices.
- Test air quality in areas where there is a risk of carbon monoxide emissions.
Your employer could be sued by you if you have suffered because they failed to act to protect you. Importantly, they cannot fire you, demote you or treat you differently for making a claim. Therefore, please don’t fear the consequences of making a claim. Instead, why not call our team for free advice on your options?
What Should You Do If You Are Exposed To Carbon Monoxide?
Staff also have a duty of care when it comes to workplace safety. Therefore, there are some things you could do to help prevent yourself or your colleagues from suffering. They include:
- Let your line manager know if a situation might increase the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
- Report any symptoms of exposure such as dizziness, headaches, drowsiness or sickness straight away.
- Ensure you ventilate areas you’re working in where possible.
- Evacuate the building immediately if you suspect carbon monoxide is present.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work Compensation Calculator
Now we are going to review what compensation could be paid for injuries caused by carbon monoxide poisoning at work. To do this, we’ve added a table of injuries and compensation ranges listed in the Judicial College Guidelines. These are used by solicitors and insurers to help in the valuation of claims.
If we haven’t listed an injury that matches yours, don’t worry. We could still help you to claim. We’ll let you know what your injuries might be worth after we’ve assessed your claim.
|Injury||Severity||Settlement Range||Additional Comments|
|Brain Injury||Moderately Severe||£205,580 to £264,650||The claimant will require constant professional care because of their very serious disabilities.|
|Moderate (i)||£140,870 to £205,580||There will be moderate to severe intellectual deficit, eyesight problems, personality change and a significant risk of epilepsy.|
|Less severe||£14,830 to £40,410||The claimant will have recovered well and should be able to participate in social activities and return to work.|
|Chest Injury||(c)||£29,380 to £51,460||There will some continuing disability due to chest and lung damage.|
|Relatively simple (d)||£11,820 to £16,860||While there will be some permanent tissue damage, it won't cause significant lung function deficiencies.|
|(e)||£5,000 to £11,820||Covers injuries caused by fume or smoke inhalation. It will result in some permanent damage but won't permanently affect lung function.|
The biggest factor in determining the compensation level is the severity of your injuries. For that reason, your solicitor will arrange a medical assessment as part of the claims process.
This will usually be arranged locally and conducted by an independent medical expert. They’ll review your injuries, discuss how you have suffered and check your medical notes. Once completed, the specialist will outline your injuries and prognosis, and this report can be used to help value your claim.
What Other Damages Can You Claim?
When you claim for an accident at work, you may need to consider whether your injuries have led to costs, expenses or financial losses. If you have, you could claim special damages.
The idea is that you should be returned to the financial position you were in before your injuries were sustained.
Every claim is unique. However, some examples of special damages include:
- Lost income. If carbon monoxide poisoning means you need time off from work, you could claim for any loss of earnings that result. This could be the difference between your normal income and statutory sick pay.
- Travel costs. Visits to doctors and hospitals could mean you pay for fuel, parking or public transport. Therefore, these costs could be claimed back.
- Care costs. Where you need support with everyday tasks while you’re ill, you could claim for the cost of a carer. This might involve working out an hourly rate based on the time a loved one spent caring for you.
- Home modifications. In more serious cases where carbon monoxide poisoning causes more serious injuries, changes to your home (and vehicle) could make coping a bit easier. Therefore, you could claim back the cost of work, such as installing ramps for easier wheelchair access or making space for oxygen tanks.
- Medical costs. Where you might benefit from private medical care (to avoid NHS waiting lists for instance), your solicitor could ask your employer’s insurer to pay the costs.
- Future loss of earnings. Where your condition means you can’t continue to work at the same level as previously, any future lost income could also be factored into your claim.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Work No Win No Fee Claims
Taking any type of legal action can be daunting, particularly if you are worried about the cost of legal representation.
However, if your carbon monoxide poisoning at work claim is accepted, you won’t need to be too concerned about this as our solicitors provide a No Win No Fee service. That means you only need to pay for their work if you are paid compensation.
Where that is the case, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from your compensation. This will be listed in the contract that explains what your solicitor needs to do before they’re paid. A Conditional Fee Agreement is a formal name for a No Win No Fee agreement.
Importantly, success fees are capped in law, so you can’t be overcharged. Yours will be listed clearly in the CFA. We can check if your case is suitable for a No Win No Fee service during your free case review. So, why not call today for more information?
Why Choose Our Team For A Claim Against Your Employer?
We believe you stand a better chance of receiving a fair compensation settlement if you have a personal injury solicitor on your side. Our team of solicitors have years of experience helping clients and understand the claims process fully.
To make everything as efficient as possible, claims are dealt with over the phone, online and by email. To reduce your stress during any claim we take on, our solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis. You’ll be kept up to date about how things are progressing, and you’ll be able to ask any questions you think of.
Ultimately, our solicitors will always try to achieve the maximum amount of compensation for you. If this kind of agreement is appealing to you, then you could be represented by a No Win No Fee lawyer from our panel.
Get In Touch
We have nearly completed this article about claiming for carbon monoxide poisoning at work. To start your claim with Accident Claims UK, you can:
- Connect to live chat and discuss your options online.
- Call our advice centre on 0800 073 8801 to speak with a specialist.
- Use our enquiry form to arrange a call back from a member of our team.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know why you’d like to take action.
Carbon Monoxide Advice – A range of guides about carbon monoxide from Public Health England.
Shortness Of Breath – Details of what to do if you’re suffering from breathing difficulties from the NHS.
Gas Safety – Information about working with Carbon Monoxide from the Health and Safety Executive.
Building Site Accident Claims – Details on what to do if you’re injured whilst working on a building site.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Advice on claiming for the symptoms of PTSD following an accident.
Fatal Car Accident Claims – This guide explains who can claim if a loved one dies in a car accident caused by somebody else.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some FAQs about claims relating to workplace carbon monoxide poisoning.
Can I sue my employer for carbon monoxide exposure?
Your employer has a duty of care towards your welfare whilst at work. If they fail to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure, you could sue for any injuries or illnesses that result. In these cases, you could sue your employer for carbon monoxide poisoning at work.
How long does it take to get carbon monoxide poisoning?
The time it will take for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning to appear will depend on the level of the gas in the area you’re working in. Other factors include the age or health of the victim. Where there is a high concentration of carbon monoxide, poisoning can take as little as 1 to 2 hours.
How should you respond to exposure?
If you suspect that you or somebody else is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, you should call 999 immediately. If possible, you should move outside into fresh air. Signs that you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide include symptoms like dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and headaches.
Thank you for reading our guide on claiming for suffering caused by carbon monoxide poisoning at work.
Guide by BH
Edited by FS