A Guide To Benzene Poisoning Compensation


The Law Of… Protecting Employees From Hazardous Substances

If you have been exposed to small quantities of benzene over a long period of time, or have experienced exposure of a high concentration of the substance, you could be eligible for benzene poisoning compensation.

Phillip Gower, leading Industrial Disease solicitor, investigates how benzene poisoning is possible and explains the process to take if you wish to claim benzene poisoning compensation.

What Is Benzene Poisoning?

Benzene itself used to be widely used in adhesives, but it now remains only in small quantities in petrol, oil and gasoline. It is also used within the rubber and coke industries as well as in foundries during casting.

It can also be formed from natural processes as well as from human activities. Volcanoes and forest fires produce benzene naturally as does cigarette smoke.

Benzene poisoning is when you have experienced over exposure to benzene gasses. This can happen if someone breaths in high levels of benzene in one incident, or if someone breaths in small amounts of benzene routinely over a long period of time.

Where Can Benzene Be Found?

Whilst there are certain industries where benzene is more likely to be a hazard, benzene can actually be found in many places within everyday life.

Benzene can be found in:

  • Outdoor air – benzene is in the atmosphere, particularly in built up cities and in industrial areas. Low levels of benzene can come from tobacco smoke, petrol stations, vehicle exhausts and industrial emissions.
  • Indoor air – some items that can be found within indoor environments can contain benzene. Glues, paints, furniture wax and detergents are all examples.
  • Working environments – the highest levels of benzene are found within working environments where benzene is made or used.
  • Tobacco products – tobacco smoke is one of the biggest sources of benzene. This can include secondary exposure through the inhalation of someone else's cigarette.

What Are The Symptoms Of Benzene Poisoning?

Benzene poisoning causes the body's cells not to work as they should. As a result, benzene can make a person extremely ill. There are signs and symptoms of benzene poisoning both in the long and short term.  

If you breathe in a high level of benzene, you may experience:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If the level of benzene is at an extreme level, it is also possible for the exposure to be fatal.

The long-term health effects of benzene poisoning include:

  • Bone marrow suppression which can lead to serious blood-disorders such as anaemia
  • Forms of leukaemia and other white blood cell cancers

How Can I Protect Myself From Benzene Poisoning?

Protecting yourself from benzene poisoning depends on where the exposure is coming from. If you are concerned about exposure to benzene in the air, within air pollution, our guide on avoiding air pollution provides some great tips.

If your working environment produces or uses benzene as an ingredient, it is possible to reduce exposure by following some of the Health and Safety Executive's guidance on benzene poisoning.

They suggest you should:

  • Use the extracting equipment available to you
  • Use protective clothing and equipment provided
  • Use washing facilities provided
  • Ensure the use of your respirator is effective
  • Report any defects with extraction equipment to employers
  • Do not eat or drink where benzene can be found

When Might I Be Entitled To A Benzene Poisoning Compensation Claim?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires employers to protect their workers from substances such as benzene, where it is reasonably practicable to do so.

The regulations require employers to:

  • Assess risks to health and safety of employees and identify precautions needed
  • Prevent employees being exposed to benzene, or at the very least, adequately control exposure
  • Reduce exposure to benzene where it is reasonably practicable
  • Arrange health checks for employees
  • Inform, instruct and train all employees who may be exposed to benzene

If these regulations aren't in place and an employee suffers from any of the symptoms of over-exposure to benzene, they could be entitled to benzene poisoning compensation.

How Do I Claim For Benzene Poisoning Compensation?

If your employer, either past or present, has not protected you from the effects of benzene to a reasonable extent, they are liable to pay for the damages caused by the poisoning you have experienced. Negligence is described as the failure to take proper care of another. Therefore, if the right measures haven't been taken, you are entitled to benzene poisoning compensation.

Benzene poisoning compensation claims can be complex as it is necessary to investigate exactly where the poisoning took place. If you suspect that you are suffering from benzene poisoning because of the carelessness of another, you should seek the help of an experienced Personal Injury lawyer.

How Can Simpson Millar Help With My Benzene Poisoning Compensation?

Choosing an appropriate solicitor to act on your behalf is important, particularly if you are suffering from long-term effects of benzene poisoning. Our team of Industrial Disease specialists can help you with your claim every step of the way.

Simpson Millar is committed to helping those who have suffered because of the negligence of their employer. Our professional but empathetic approach will see you get the compensation you deserve.

Phillip comments:

"Benzene poisoning can be extremely nasty, causing terminal cancer in some sufferers."

"It is crucial that employers perform consistent checks to ensure their employees are protected as much as is physically possible."

"At the very least, employees should be warned of the potential hazard, which is so often the biggest mistake that employers make. Someone that begins working with a hazardous substance has to be told of the risks involved."

If you suspect you have suffered benzene poisoning that is the result of another's carelessness, call Simpson Millar's Industrial Disease team to see if you could be entitled to benzene poisoning compensation.

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