Claims for Compensation
Claims for compensation due to illnesses or injuries sustained as a result of workplace exposure to diesel fumes are complex and can often be challenged on different grounds. For instance, an employer may argue that they have complied with the laws at the time or that the exposure to diesel fumes wasn’t sufficient to cause illness or increase the risk of developing illness.
Furthermore, they may argue that the time limits for bringing such a claim have already expired.
It’s therefore very important to get expert legal advice before making a claim.
Exposed to Diesel Fumes at Work
There are, broadly speaking, 2 different ways in which workers can become exposed to diesel fumes. These are short term but significant exposure and long term exposure which is often, but not always, at a lower level.
You may experience short term exposure to often concentrated diesel fumes if you were working at a fuel refinery, or were involved in work when diesel fuel was spilled, such as delivery of diesel fuel, or responding to a spillage of diesel fuel as part of your job. That sort of exposure would be concentrated and may cause irritation to eyes or skin or short term breathing problems such as an exacerbation of pre-existing asthma.
In these circumstances, an employer may be expected to ensure that all equipment which carried diesel fuel is regularly maintained, suitable for doing that job and is not faulty. They may also be expected to provide employees with masks or other protective equipment to try to reduce the risk of illness to members of staff.
Long term exposure to diesel fumes may occur if you work in logistics or spend your day in the loading bay as lorries move in and out, or if you work in transportation or construction. Construction sites in particular may have a number of vehicles on them which run on diesel fuel and regularly emit significant quantities of diesel fumes.
Furthermore, if you’re employed in the vehicle manufacture or vehicle service industry, you may have cause to test diesel engines and be frequently exposed to diesel fumes as a result.
That sort of exposure, over a long period of time, may cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or even lung cancer. An employer in those circumstances might be expected to test the levels of diesel fumes in the area that you work in and provide extraction facilities to take away the fumes, as well as a ventilated area within which to work, and protective equipment such as masks or breathing protection.
What are Diesel Fumes?
Diesel fumes include diesel exhaust, which will contain particulate matter, such as soot, from the burning of the diesel fuel, as well as diesel fuel which has not yet burned.
Diesel fumes were classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation in 2012, following studies that showed that someone who has been exposed to a significant amount of diesel fumes may have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. This means it’s vitally important an employer protects their workers from exposure to those fumes.