How To Make A Chemical Burn At Work Compensation Claim
By Daniel Archer. Last Updated 25th July 2023. A chemical burn injury at work can be a frightening experience. The sudden burning of acid or a caustic spillage can be panic-inducing and distressing. If you came into contact with dangerous substances whilst doing your job and were injured due to employer negligence, it’s possible that you may be entitled to a chemical burn at work compensation amount.
Acid burns can cause scarring and, in severe cases, damage skin tissue to the point that it affects joints, muscles and even organs. The health implications of this can be very far-reaching.
Stringent laws in the UK exist to protect your rights in the workplace with chemicals and could enable you to claim damages if an employer failed to protect you properly.
To find out more about how a chemical burn at work compensation claim could help you today, get in touch with our advisors at Legal Expert. Simply call or write to us by:
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Select A Section
- What Is A Chemical Burn And Can I Claim Compensation?
- Types Of Chemical Burn Injuries
- Common Causes Of Chemical Burn Injuries
- Chemical Spillage Injuries
- Unsafe Transportation And Storage Of Hazardous Chemicals
- Signs And Symptoms Of Chemical Burns
- Chemical Burn At Work Compensation Calculator
- Compensation For Medical And Other Expenses
- No Win No Fee Chemical Burn At Work Compensation Claims
- Start Your Claim
- Read More
- Chemical Burn At Work Compensation FAQs
A chemical burn in the workplace is usually the result of skin contact with a hazardous substance. This could be acid, alkaline or caustic chemicals that are not intended to come into contact with unprotected human skin, eyes, nostrils or mouths. These chemicals can cause burn damage leading to lifelong issues in some cases.
Although similar in appearance to the effects of burns by fire, water or steam, chemical burns have to be treated slightly differently. For example, contaminated clothing should be carefully removed so that the chemical isn’t spread.
There can be a very grave level of danger to internal health in cases of prolonged contact. Contact with chemicals is something that is strictly regulated in the workplace. For example, there should be clear identification and storage, usage and transportation of chemicals.
A chemical burn can also be the result of inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) as well. Correct training and adequate health and safety provision are required by employers as a duty of care.
How Long Do I Have To Make A Chemical Burn Injury Compensation Claim?
In order for your claim to be valid, you must begin proceedings within the correct time limit. This is generally three years from the date of your accident, as set out by the Limitation Act 1980.
However, there are some exceptions, so you may still be able to claim if you are outside of these three years. For example, if you were under the age of 18 when you were injured, the time limit won’t apply until your 18th birthday. This is because the accident at work time limit does not begin until the claimant turns 18. A litigation friend can start proceedings on your behalf in the meantime.
Similarly, the time limit is frozen for those who lack the mental capacity to claim for themselves. In these cases, the time limit will only be reinstated if they regain the appropriate capacity to claim. Otherwise, a litigation friend can make a chemical burn claim for them.
To find out if you are within the time limit to make a chemical burn injury compensation claim, contact our team of friendly advisors today.
What are the symptoms of a chemical burn? Given the wide breadth of different chemicals used in modern workplaces, a symbol chart can be a simple way to group relevant chemicals in order of toxicity. Furthermore, this system can offer an instant visual aid to:
- Identify the chemical
- Describe how toxic it is
- What treatment needs to be instantly administered in cases of contact
Danger labels seek to instantly explain if the substance process produces a gas, any fumes, dust, vapour or mist when being used or stored. Is it dangerous to inhale or could it harm your skin? How likely is harm in the correct and normal use of this substance? What immediate actions need to be taken if there is contact with skin? Clear and easy to access advice and information is key to the correct prevention of chemical injury.
Despite adequate warnings, when a chemical comes into contact it can:
- Burn the skin; from first (superficial) to third-degree burns (burning tissue and nerve endings). Exposed areas such as fingers, hands and forearms can be most at risk as can eyes, mouths or noses.
- Cause caustic burns on the inside of the lungs if inhaled
- Create organ damage
- Lead to long term health conditions (such as leukaemia)
Accidents can happen in the best-run factories and workplaces, but a rigid adherence to health and safety procedures can greatly reduce risks. In view of this, employers need to conduct regular risk assessments and work practice reviews to limit dangers before they happen.
Meeting with safety representatives and listening to the concerns of staff could also be an essential way to pre-empt possible accidents.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of their employees. Unfortunately, despite clear recommendations and rules, some common causes of accidents can still be:
- Unsafe storage arrangements
- Poorly labelled chemicals
- Inappropriate handling or transportation
- Failure to check the information that came with the product, such as the safety data sheet
- Inadequate training or lack of supervision
- Failure to be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary
As the innocent victim of a chemical burn at work, you may know all too well how needless the accident was. If you have actual evidence to support a claim that your employer failed to owe you a duty of care and you were injured as a result, your chemical burns at work compensation claim could start sooner than you reliase. Speak with our advisors for help.
Certain commonly-used substances are more likely to cause burns in a workplace environment when they spill or fall or leak from containers during use, transportation or storage. Any of the following regularly accessible chemicals could cause chemical burns and may be found in any number of typical workplace environments:
- Battery acid
- Concrete mix
- Drain or toilet bowl cleaners
- Metal cleaners
- Pool chlorinators
Although less commonly encountered, other hazardous substances can carry even greater risk. A huge array of chemicals can be used in modern manufacturing processes. Each presents its own particular set of hazards. Suffice to say that each one should always carry its own particular warning and be stored or handled according to strict regulation.
Any container or receptacle that is not maintained or fit for purpose runs the risk of allowing that chemical to leak onto surfaces or be breathed in. Furthermore, changing containers or mixing chemicals is strongly advised against unless proper precautions are taken.
Corroded tins or leaking canisters can be a prime concern. Spillages should be attended to promptly, where reasonable, and the correct methods for cleaning up that particular substance should be deployed as per guidance.
The transportation, storage and disposal of dangerous spillages is also something that is regulated carefully. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 provides legal guidance for the proper storage and moving of dangerous or toxic substances so that spillages and accidents can be avoided.
It’s essential that chemicals are never swapped or put into different containers without appropriate precautions taken. This runs the risk of them (depending on the chemical) eroding unsuitable receptacles and also being inaccurately identified during an emergency.
Employers (and employees) have a responsibility to understand the properties of hazardous chemical waste and how to handle or dispose of them correctly. Anyone who produces, transports or receives hazardous chemical waste should treat it in accordance with The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.
Under certain circumstances, any business involved in recycling or waste procedures may have obligations under Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (UK REACH) to ensure chemicals are handled with the observance of safety. Organisations should identify and control the risks of substances that are manufactured and marketed in Great Britain.
Whilst each chemical or hazardous substance may affect the body differently, there are general signs and symptoms that can apply to them all. After coming into contact with a hazardous chemical, you could experience any or several of the following:
- Skin redness and irritation
- Burning on the point of contact
- Localised pain or numbness
- Blisters or black dead skin
- Vision disturbance, stinging if in contact with eyes
- Coughing and shortness of breath
- Faintness or dizziness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest
The impact of exposure to chemicals cannot be underestimated. For example, prolonged contact with wet cement can cause dermatitis which may be a fairly straightforward illness to remedy, but exposure to benzene in crude oil can cause leukaemia. It’s essential to get the chemical in question properly identified and treated, whatever the signs and symptoms of your chemical burn. You can do this by:
- Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident
- Retain evidence of the chemical that you came into contact with, such as via a photographs
- Alert the relevant party immediately and report the accident
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers are potentially liable for costs associated with your injuries if their negligence caused them. Therefore, calculating compensation is possible by, firstly, sitting for a medical assessment with an independent medical professional.
The expert can look at the full extent of your injuries and then provide your personal injury lawyer with something called a medico-legal report. This report can act as evidence to prove:
- The accident caused or worsened your injuries.
- The severity of your injuries.
Impartial and unbiased, it aims to provide an accurate account of injury and prognosis in your case. Your solicitor can also use the report to help value your injuries.
In addition, a solicitor can cross-reference the report with injuries listed in a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The JCG provides award bracket amounts that aim to offer a consistent figure for various injuries. These figures can be based on the following:
- Pain and suffering caused
- Impact on mental health
- Damage to personal relationships
- Amenity in life
- Mental health damage
Serious burns could detrimentally affect you in all the areas mentioned above. Because of this, the JCG reserves some of its highest award brackets to acknowledge just how devastating burn injuries can be. The compensation table below illustrates this.
Injury Severity JCG award bracket notes
Dermatitis (a) Both hands £13,740 to £19,200 Cracking and soreness, persistent issues for years
Dermatitis (b) One hand or both £8,640 to £11,410 Significant period of recovery, but settling with treatment and/or use of gloves
Burns Serious burn injuries Likely to exceed £104,830 Continuing pain and psychological injury
Scar One noticeable or several small scars £3,950 to £13,740 On the hand(s), arm(s) or leg(s) with some cosmetic deficit
Injuries affecting sight (e) Complete loss of sight in one eye £49,270 to £54,830 This takes some risk of sympathetic ophthalmia into account
Eye (h) Minor £3,950 to £8,730 Exposure to fumes such as smoke or splashed with liquids
It’s important to note that these amounts are not certified or guaranteed. They are merely a guide amount.
What’s more, if you can’t see your injuries in the compensation table above, reach out to our advisors. They give free estimates of what you could claim.
After a serious chemical burn in the workplace, you could be subject to many additional demands on your finances as you try to cope and adapt. Compensation for financial losses caused by an injury is known as special damages.
A few examples might be:
- Experiencing a loss of earnings due to from being unable to work
- Loss of future income if your injuries mean you can no longer work in that role
- Damage to your pension or attendance allowance
- Extra help is needed as you recover at home
- Adaptations to your home or car if you’ve suffered a disability that necessitates them
- Travel costs to hospital or therapy appointments
- Cosmetic surgery costs
- Counselling and therapy costs that aren’t covered by the NHS
- Pain medications and creams
- Forfeited deposits for events you could not attend
A No Win No Fee lawyer can work closely with you and help track and record this lost money both now and in the future. By compiling the actual cost of your injuries with receipts, bills, bank statements and invoices, it’s possible to present an accurate picture of the full impact of the accident. You can then include this in your claim against your employer and potentially recover the costs.
As you learn to adjust to life after your chemical burn accident, you may be considering claiming. It is not unreasonable to expect that employers should safeguard your safety at work and if a simple and avoidable failure caused all these problems, you could take steps.
When considering your options, you may decide that claiming against your employer is the right course of action, but how? A No Win No Fee legal arrangement can help.
When you work with a lawyer in this way, you enter into an agreement whereby their fees are only payable if your case wins. This means that there are no lawyer fees due upfront to secure their services or while the case progresses. It also means that if the case fails there are no lawyer fees to pay them at all.
No Win No Fee agreements can offer people the opportunity to access legal representation at no immediate cost. Consequently, this means there’s little to stop you from starting a claim for compensation that can help with the expenses the accident caused.
If you suffered chemical burns and it wasn’t your fault, we can help you seek compensation today. A chemical burn at work compensation claim could be possible with the right advice. Get in touch with our advisors today by:
Our advisors are available 24/7. What’s more, they give free legal advice and you won’t be under any obligation to proceed with the services of our personal injury solicitors. However, if you have a solid claim, our advisors could connect you with them.
Thank you for reading our guide and we hope that it has provided useful advice on chemical burn at work compensation claims. As well as personal injury guidance on this topic, we can help if you with:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder compensation
- Head to our whiplash compensation calculator
- Psychological injury and trauma
- Motorcycle accident claims
- Rights after an accident at work
Below, we examine some commonly asked questions around this topic. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our advisors if we can answer any other questions you might have about chemical burn at work compensation claims.
Can I claim for a burn at work?
Yes, it is possible. Although, simply sustaining a burn is not enough for you to be eligible to claim compensation. The injury must have been caused by negligence. Additionally, the negligence must have been carried out by somebody who owed you a duty of care.
Your employer owes you a duty of care under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Therefore, if you have evidence to support your claim, then you may be awarded compensation if you can prove your injuries were caused by your employer’s negligence.
You can also sometimes be partially responsible for a burn injury. If the remainder of the blame rests with your employer, then you could still be awarded a partial settlement.
How serious is a chemical burn?
The answer to this question can depend on a number of factors. For instance, different chemicals may react with your skin differently. Additionally, the amount of time that the chemical is in contact with your skin could influence the severity of the injury.
Some chemical burns may only be minor. However, some can be much more serious and can leave lasting damage with ongoing issues. The impact the burn has on your life going forward can affect how much compensation you receive as a result.
What type of injury is a chemical burn?
Chemical burns may cause damage to your soft tissues such as skin and muscle. Additionally, they could also injure your eyes or other parts of your body if hazardous chemicals come into contact with them.
In some roles, working with hazardous chemicals is part of the job. If so, it is up to your employer to supply you with necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) such as protective gloves and safety goggles. These can reduce the risk of chemical burns.
How long does it take for a chemical burn to heal?
It depends on the severity of the burn and the chemical involved. Very caustic acids and agents can cause severe skin damage and injury to tissue. Burns like this can take months to heal.
What personal protective equipment should I be given?
By law, your employer has a duty to properly assess the risks of your role and if there’s a requirement for personal protective equipment, they should supply it free of charge. However, employees also have a duty to use it properly and as intended.
Is my employer always responsible?
Employers are not automatically liable or responsible for chemical accidents in the workplace. Staff have a duty to ensure that they follow training guidelines and behave accordingly when handling chemicals. Therefore, check with our advisors to see if your employer is liable.
How long will a personal injury claim take?
There are no absolute timescales for a personal injury claim. It is reasonable to expect to hear something within 6 months of a claim. There is generally a three-year time limit for starting a personal injury claim for compensation. This timescale can commence from either the exact day of the accident or from when you first became aware of negligence at least contributing to your injuries.
Thank you for reading our guide to chemical burn at work compensation.
Written by Waters
Edited by Victorine