When you are at work, your employer owes you a duty of care. Therefore, your employer is somewhat responsible for your health and safety. Consequently, you may be eligible for compensation if you have suffered an industrial illness or injury because your employer acted negligently. In this guide, we will answer the question, “What is an industrial disease?”
What’s more, we will explain how to claim compensation if you have experienced an industrial disease or an industrial injury that was not your fault.
If you have a solid industrial disease compensation claim, Accident Claims UK can help you. We can connect you with a skilled personal injury lawyer to handle your claim.
Our advisors are available 24/7 and give free legal advice. What’s more, you’ll be under no obligation to proceed with the services of our panel of solicitors. Call Accident Claims UK on 0800 073 8801. Alternatively, contact us via our website.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Industrial Disease And Illness Claims
- What Is An Industrial Disease?
- How Prevalent Are Industrial Diseases?
- Employers’ Duty Of Care
- Could You Claim Against Previous Employers?
- Asbestosis And Other Respiratory Illnesses
- Industrial Cancers And Skin Diseases
- Tinnitus And Work-Related Hearing Loss
- Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
- Calculate An Industrial Disease Compensation Payout
- Compensation For Medical And Other Costs
- No Win No Fee Industrial Disease And Illness Claims
- Why Choose Our Work-Related Illness Claims Team?
- Start A Claim Against Your Employer
- Learn More
- Industrial Disease FAQs
As we have stated, your employer is responsible for your health and safety when you are at work. However, you are also responsible, meaning you shouldn’t act recklessly and endanger your own health or that of others.
If you have suffered an industrial disease because your employer acted negligently, you may be eligible to make an industrial disease claim. You could claim compensation from your current employer or a former employer who was responsible for your injuries.
In this guide to an industrial disease, we will look at what causes industrial illnesses and industrial injuries in the workplace. And we will explain how employers should protect their staff. Moreover, we will explain how the industrial disease claim process works and how to make a successful industrial illness compensation claim.
For free legal advice and to see if you can begin your claim, don’t hesitate to contact Accident Claims UK today.
Industrial disease is when an employee’s working conditions cause them to develop a disease. Likewise, if a worker is injured at work because of unsafe working conditions, this can be known as an industrial injury.
Examples of industrial diseases, injuries and illnesses include the following:
- vibration white finger (VWF)
- occupational cancer
- respiratory disease
- lung disease
- skin cancer
- skin disease
- hearing loss
Some industrial diseases, such as cancer, can be life-threatening. Other industrial illnesses and injuries can harm the injured person’s quality of life. Workplaces should be safe and hygienic environments. Employers should protect their workers by following health and safety regulations.
A worker may suffer from an industrial disease today because of neglect that took place in the past. For example, you may have been exposed to asbestos at work before regulations were introduced to protect workers. However, you may still be able to make an industrial disease claim if you have an asbestos-related illness today.
If you have been affected by an industrial disease or illness, you may be eligible to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).
When could you claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit?
In Great Britain, there are 1.6 million workers who suffer from health problems relating to conditions at work. These numbers account for medical conditions that are new and long-standing.
In 2019/20, 51% of work-related ill health (self-reported by employees) was for stress, anxiety or depression. 30% related to musculoskeletal disorders. 19% related other types of illnesses.
Moreover, each year 12,000 people die from lung diseases caused by poor past working conditions. The types of lung disease that are responsible for these deaths are as follows:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – 33%
- Non-asbestos related lung cancer – 24%
- Asbestos-related lung cancer – 20%
- Mesothelioma – 20%
- Other lung diseases – 3%
According to legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a duty of care towards their staff. The employer’s duty of care applies when the worker is at their place of work or when they’re in an environment that their employer controls.
A duty of care means that employers are responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect the worker’s health, safety and welfare.
To uphold their duty of care, the employer should do the following:
- Conduct regular risk assessments to identify possible health and safety hazards. A hazard is something that may cause an accident.
- The employer should apply control measures to hazards to remove or minimise the risk to workers.
- And the employer should provide their workers with training to enable them to carry out their tasks safely.
- What’s more, your employer is responsible for following industry-specific safety guidelines.
If an employer fails to protect their staff from accidents in the workplace, this could be seen as negligence.
Is your employer liable for your illness?
If your employer failed to protect you from hazardous conditions at work, they might be liable (legally responsible) for your illness.
To make a successful industrial disease compensation claim, your injury solicitor will have to provide evidence to prove that, firstly, your employer owed you a duty of care. Secondly, that your employer acted negligently, causing an accident at work. And thirdly, that you were injured or contracted an industrial disease as a result of this accident.
There is a general personal injury claims time limit of three years. The time limit means that claimants should begin their compensation claim within three years of their accident taking place.
However, the symptoms of an industrial disease may take many years to present. In this case, your personal injury claims time limit will begin on the date of knowledge. The date of knowledge means the date that a doctor diagnosed your injuries or you gained enough knowledge to realise that employer negligence at least contributed to your injuries.
Therefore, you could make an industrial disease claim against a current employer or a previous employer. Even if your previous employer no longer operates as a company, you may still be eligible to claim compensation.
If you wish to claim compensation from your current employer, can you be fired for making a claim?
No, your employer cannot legally fire you or treat you unfairly for making an honest compensation claim against them.
How long does the claims process take?
The industrial disease claim process can take just a few months. However, your claim may take longer if you have a complex case. We recommend calling our advisors to speak about your situation.
We will now look at different industrial diseases and injuries that you can contract in more depth.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material. It was once frequently used in the construction industry. The UK government fully banned the use of asbestos in 1999. If you were a construction worker or tradesperson during the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, you might have come into frequent contact with asbestos.
Long term exposure to asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis. A person can develop asbestosis after they inhale asbestos fibres. The asbestos fibres enter the lungs, gradually damaging them.
To develop asbestosis, a person would have to be frequently exposed to asbestos over a long period. The symptoms of asbestosis can take 20 to 30 years to appear.
Symptoms of asbestosis include the following:
- A persistent cough and being short of breath
- Pain in the shoulder
- And a pain in the chest
- In extreme cases, people living with asbestosis may experience clubbed fingertips
Poor working conditions can also cause the following industrial respiratory diseases:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – COPD is a disease caused by smoking and inhaling pollutants.
- Asthma – Asthma is common amongst the population. However, poor working conditions can exacerbate or trigger asthma.
- Pneumoconiosis – Pneumoconiosis is the name given to a range of lung diseases. Workers can develop pneumoconiosis by breathing in excessive amounts of dust.
- Allergic alveolitis – Allergic alveolitis is caused by repeated inhalation of excessive amounts of certain substances. Inhalation often happens in an industrial setting.
- Silicosis – Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling large amounts of crystalline silica dust over the long term.
- Workers can also contract infectious diseases because proper precautions have not been taken at work.
Exposure to carcinogens causes some forms of cancer. Carcinogens are cancer-causing chemicals. Occupational cancer is cancer that develops because of exposure to carcinogens or other hazards in the workplace.
For example, workers can develop mesothelioma after exposure to hazardous materials at work. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that begins in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a membrane covering essential organs, including the heart, abdomen and lungs.
On the other hand, a worker can develop occupational skin cancer. The worker can experience skin cancer if exposed to unsafe amounts of sunlight over a long time without protection. What’s more, a worker can develop skin cancer after long term exposure to hazardous chemicals at work.
Dermatitis In The Workplace
Another industrial skin disease is work-related dermatitis. When an irritant comes into contact with the skin, this can cause dermatitis. According to the HSE, professionals who experience the highest rates of dermatitis are:
- People who work in certain manufacturing-related occupations
The most common cause of dermatitis at work involves using soaps, cleaning products and working with wet hands. When dermatitis affects the skin, it becomes dry, cracked, thickened and inflamed. Lighter skin appears red, whilst darker skin appears grey or purple.
Workers can experience noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) if they are exposed to excessively loud noise over some time. If workers are routinely exposed to unsafe noise levels over a long period, this can cause NIHL (also known as occupational deafness). Subsequently, hearing loss can occur if the loud noises damage the cochlea hair cells of the inner ear.
People with noise-induced hearing loss may also experience tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition where the patient hears sounds in their ear not caused by the outside world. Patients with tinnitus may experience a ringing in their ears. Or the person may hear whooshing, humming or buzzing sounds.
When could you claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit for noise-induced hearing loss?
- You have a hearing loss of 50dB or more in each ear
- You have worked in proximity to specific tools or machines that are likely to cause deafness for ten or more years.
Hand-arm vibration syndrome is also known as vibration white finger (VBF). A worker can develop hand-arm vibration syndrome if they use vibrating tools for a long period. For instance, a construction worker may use a handheld vibrating power tool at work on a day-to-day basis without adequate breaks.
Symptoms of vibration white finger (VWF) include the following:
- White discolouration on the fingertips
- Numbness in the hands
- The feeling of pins and needles
- Loss of skill in the hands
- Finding it harder to grip
Hand-arm vibration syndrome can be debilitating, making it harder to perform everyday tasks with your hands. In some cases, people with VWF have to give up work entirely or train for a new career, causing a loss of income.
If you wish to make an industrial injury or industrial disease compensation claim, you may be wondering how much compensation you could claim. Please feel free to use the table below to estimate the amount of compensation you could receive.
However, please note that we have not included any special damages you may be eligible to receive in this table because special damages payouts can vary greatly, depending on the case’s circumstances.
|Type Of Injury||Degree Of Severity||Comments||Settlement Award|
|Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) Or Vibration White Finger (VWF)||(a) Most Serious||Where the person has persistent bilateral symptoms. The claimant will be younger and the symptoms will significantly interfere with daily life as well as their employment.||£29,690 to £36,060|
|HAVS or VWF||(b) Serious||The claimant would suffer attacks over the year.||£15,740 to £29,690|
|HAVS or VWF||(c) Moderate||The claimant may be middle aged, have remained in employment (or have had to vary their employment) and will mainly suffer attacks in colder weather.||£8,110 to £15,740|
|Asbestos-Related Illnesses||(a)||Where the person has mesothelioma which has caused or is causing them severe pain. The condition may also have impaired the person's quality of life.||£65,710 to £118,150|
|Asbestos-Related Illnesses||(b)||Where the person has developed lung cancer. In most instances, the condition may be fatal.||£65,710 to £91,350|
|Asbestos-Related Illnesses||(c)||Where there is asbestosis and pleural thickening. How much of the disability is caused by asbestos is greater than 10%. This will cause breathlessness as it reduced lung capacity/function.||£36,060 to £99,330|
|Asbestos-Related Illnesses||(d)||Similar to the category above, but where the cause attributed to asbestos is less than 10%.||£14,140 to £36,060|
|Tinnitus or Deafness||(b)||Where there is total loss of hearing.||£85,170 to £102,890|
|Tinnitus or Deafness||(d) Severe (i)||Severe tinnitus and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.||£27,890 to £42,730|
|Loss Of Smell Or Taste||(a)||Total loss of taste and smell||In the region of £36,770|
We have used guidelines from the Judicial College to create the above compensation table. Your solicitor would use these guidelines and your medical report to value your claim if you claim compensation. But the amount of compensation you receive may vary, depending on your circumstances.
If you can’t find your injuries in the compensation table above, why not get in touch? Our advisors give free estimates of what you could claim.
If your industrial illness or industrial injury claim is successful, you can receive up to two heads of claim. Firstly you would receive general damages, which is a key part of your compensation payout. Claimants receive general damages to compensate them for the suffering caused by their injuries.
In order to prove general damages, you’d attend a medical assessment. An independent medical professional would assess your injuries and create a report. The report could:
- Prove that the accident caused (or worsened) your injuries.
- Provide an informed description of how severe your injuries are.
If the report doesn’t link the incident to your injuries, you could find it difficult to claim. However, if it does link them and you use the services of a solicitor to claim, they could use the report to help support your case and value your injuries.
Secondly, an industrial disease claim payout can include special damages. Special damages are compensation to reimburse you for any expenses or financial losses caused by your injuries. For example, you could claim special damages compensation to cover the cost of medical treatment (such as prescriptions) for your industrial disease.
Your industrial disease compensation claim payout can include the following types of special damages:
- Care expenses
- Travel expenses (to and from appointments, for example)
- Medical expenses if the NHS couldn’t cover them
- Mobility equipment expenses if you’ve been left with a disability
- Home or car adaptation expenses if you’ve been left with a disability
- Repayment for loss of income if you had to take time off while you recovered
You may wish to make a No Win No Fee claim for compensation. You may expect that if you make a personal injury claim, you will pay an upfront fee to your solicitor. But if you make a No Win No Fee claim, your solicitor will start working on your claim without charging you an upfront solicitor’s fee.
Instead, your injury solicitor would charge you a success fee on the condition that they win your claim. In the event that your claim is not successful, you will not be charged a success fee. You will sign a Conditional Fee Agreement to formalise this. (A Conditional Fee Agreement is another term for a No Win No Fee agreement.)
The benefits of making a No Win No Fee claim include the following:
- A No Win No Fee claim is a less financially risky way of funding the services of a solicitor. That’s because you will not pay a success fee if you do not win your claim.
- The success fee is capped by law.
- What’s more, No Win No Fee can be more affordable for many claimants because you won’t pay an upfront or ongoing solicitor’s fee.
Please read our online guide to learn more about making a No Win No Fee claim for an industrial illness.
If you wish to seek compensation for industrial disease, trust Accident Claims UK to handle your claim. Our panel of lawyers have solid experience handling compensation claims for accidents at work. Moreover, your lawyer would value your claim accurately to make sure you do not under-settle. So, contact us today to see if you can begin your industrial disease compensation claim.
To see if you can begin your industrial injury or industrial illness claim, contact Accident Claims UK today. You could claim compensation from your current or former employer.
Contact us today to begin the industrial disease claim process:
- Call us on 0800 073 8801
- Use our contact form to get a callback at a time best for you
- Ask an advisor a question directly, using our online chatbox
We hope this guide to what is an industrial disease has been helpful. You may wish to read these guides to find out more about claiming compensation for a workplace accident.
Building Site Accident Claims – a guide to claiming compensation for accidents in the construction industry.
What Are My Legal Rights After An Accident At Work? – a guide to your rights if you are injured at work.
Are You Eligible To Make A Self-Employed Accident at Work Compensation Claim? – a guide to claiming compensation for an accident at work if you are self-employed.
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit: What You Will Get – a guide to industrial disease benefit rates.
An HSE guide to managing risks and risk assessments at work
Now, we will answer some frequently asked questions about claiming compensation for an injury at work.
When could you claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit?
You may be eligible to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) if you are now disabled because of an accident at work or became ill because of suffering a disease at work. You could also claim IIDB if you suffered the above on an approved employment training course.
Is your employer liable for your illness?
Your employer could be liable for your illness or injuries if they were caused by negligence on their part. If that’s the case, you could be eligible to make a compensation claim.
Could I be fired for making a claim?
Your employer is not allowed to fire you if you make an honest personal injury claim against them. Nor is your employer allowed to discriminate against you for this. If an employer fires you for making an honest compensation claim, this would be unfair dismissal.
How long does the claims process take?
The industrial disease claim process can take just a few months. However, it can take longer to settle depending on different factors, such as whether the defendant admits liability.
Can you help me get an interim payout?
Your solicitor may be able to request an interim payout for you if you are in immediate need of paying for medical treatment or another essential service and the other side admits liability.
Thank you for reading our guide to what is an industrial disease.
Guide by HC
Edited by RV