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A significant proportion of these cases were identified as occupational lung cancer – caused by unnecessary exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in the workplace.
Many chemical compounds used in industry are known to potentially cause lung cancer. If an employee is exposed to a carcinogen as the result of an employers negligence, and develops lung cancer in later life, it is often possible to demonstrate a link between the two.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARCs) has an approved list of known and probable carcinogens. In addition to asbestos and diesel fumes, it identifies a range of other carcinogenic substances and processes specific to lung cancer. These include:
Exposure to many of these substances significant enough to cause lung cancer usually only occurs in the workplace. High risk industries include manufacturing, construction and mining but anyone who works as a painter or in the production of rubber, aluminium, iron and steel or works as a welder is also at risk. The symptoms of lung cancer often only appear years after exposure, therefore claims tend to relate to past employment.
Do I have a claim against my employer?
The Health and Safety at Work Act imposes a legal duty on employers to take reasonably practicable, steps to protect the health of their employees. The employer must also provide safety information, instruction and adequate supervision. This obligation applies not just to avoiding immediate injury but also any danger to your long term health.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require the employer to conduct a risk assessment including any risk from hazards that may cause cancer. Your employer must also identify and introduce preventative and protective measures highlighted by the assessment.
The law is clear. The first aim should always be to completely remove the hazard, but if that is not possible then steps must be taken to reduce those risks to the lowest level possible. For example: substituting less hazardous substances or materials in the production process, or failing that, issuing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff affected.
My employer is no longer trading. Can I still claim?
It is possible that the employer may have been taken over by another company. If it is no longer trading then we will use our extensive experience to try and trace the employers insurer at the time when you were employed and exposed to the cancer causing agent.
As long as we can identify the relevant insurer a claim can still be made.
I joined Access Legal Solicitors in 2008 as head of the personal injury team in Birmingham and was made a partner in 2011. I have been undertaking personal injury work for over 20 years, specialising in industrial disease claims. I only act for the victims of industrial diseases and accidents.View full profile
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