Heavy Metal Poisoning at Work

Illness caused by exposure to Heavy Metals at Work

Metal poisoning is the toxic build-up of heavy metals within the soft tissues of your body. It is your employer's duty to provide you with a safe working environment and practices to ensure you do not become ill.

Heavy Metals - Poisoning - Injury Claims

If you become ill following exposure to heavy metal's then you may be able to make a claim for compensation under your firm's Employer's Liability Insurance. Find out more about heavy metal poisoning compensation and how our experts can help you.

Key Information:

What are heavy metals?

Heavy metals have a high density eg (>5.0). Examples include:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Aluminium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Cadmium
  • Thallium
  • Bismuth
  • Arsenic (eg has metallic properties)

Exposure to heavy metals

Heavy metals have a high toxicity level and can enter the body in a variety of ways eg:

  • Ingestion (eaten or taken in through the mouth)
  • Inhalation, or can be
  • Absorbed via the skin

Signs and symptoms of heavy metal poisoning

Symptoms will vary dependent on your age, level of exposure and on the type of metal, but general signs can include:

  • Personality changes eg irritability; depression; sudden anger; nervousness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cold hands or feet even in warm weather
  • Bloating and fluid retention
  • Memory problems
  • Tremors or shakes of head, hands and feet
  • Twitching of face and other muscles
  • Leg cramps
  • Ringing or noise in the ears
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Itching, rashes and skin irritations
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Chest and joint pain
  • Tachycardia
  • Burning sensation on the tongue
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Renal problems
  • Nausea and vomiting

Diagnosis and treatments

There are many treatments and each are specific to the type of metal you have been exposed to. The most common form of treatment is chelation therapy ie a metal-specific chelating agent is often given either intramuscularly, orally or intravenously.

If you believe you are suffering from metal poisoning you should contact your GP immediately in order that they can provide you with the right treatment and avoid any long term damage.

A medical professional should be able to detect if you are suffering from poisoning by doing urine and blood tests, tissue and hair analysis, or x rays. It is important to know that the diagnosis can often be overlooked, however, if you believe you have been put at risk you need to ensure that your doctor takes a thorough history from you highlighting your occupation.

Your employer's duty to you

If you are exposed to metals during the course of your occupation it is your employer's duty to provide shielding clothing and respirators which must be worn at all times.

Any protective clothing must not be worn home and should be left at work, by wearing it home you could be putting you family at risk of toxic dust.

Claim Compensation for your injuries

Call our occupational disease helpline today on freephone: 0808 129 3320 or use our free, no obligation, online enquiry form and we will call you back.

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Gavin Evans | Partner &  Head of Industrial Disease | Simpson Millar LLP

Gavin Evans
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

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