Accident At Work Claims

 

Industrial Disease Claims

With over 29 years in the legal industry, we at Smith Jones Solicitors understand the strict laws that govern the workplace and are experts in dealing with claims where you or someone close to you is suffering due to unsafe working conditions. We have helped many clients reach settlements with current and former employers. Common causes of industrial disease include:

 

 

If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer a work-related disease, our team can provide you with the advice and assistance you need. To begin making a claim, call us for free on 0800 195 95 90 and discuss your situation with a member of our expert team.

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Common Industrial Disease Claims

REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURIES (RSI)

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a term used to group together a number of soft tissue injuries that are normally caused by the repetition of a specific action or trauma.

 

RSI is a common risk in the workplace and it can affect many people in all sorts of job roles and types.   If you have been diagnosed with RSI and think that it was caused by your work, then the team at Smith Jones could help you bring a claim.

 

RSI has a broad range of causes and can impact on an individual in various ways.  You may be suffering from tingling or numbness, serious pain, joint or limb weakness even loss of dexterity.

 

RSI can make even the most basic tasks, hard, from getting dressed in the morning, to answering the telephone.

 

If you are suffering from RSI then sometimes it can be more serious and you might end up with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome (in the hand or wrist), tendonitis, tennis elbow even ulnar neuropathy (in the elbow and forearm).

 

The most common causes of RSI are:

 

  •         Being on the phone (holding the phone to your ear) for long periods of time
  •         Heavy manual lifting
  •         Poorly designed or fitted workspaces, so that you can’t work comfortably or you have to stretch a lot
  •         Operating machinery
  •         Repeatedly using tools that vibrate
  •         Using a computer for too long in one period of time

 

Though the above list is by no means exhaustive.  Any repetitive movement or the overuse of a muscle could result in RSI.  Especially if employees aren’t given the right working environment, the correct protective equipment or you aren’t allowed to take regular breaks.

 

Which Jobs Have The Highest Risk of RSI?

 

As to be expected, the most common types of jobs which carry the risk of RSI are:

 

  •         Assembly line workers
  •         Builders and those that lift heavy loads
  •         Call centre workers
  •         Factory workers
  •         Clothes makers
  •         Machinists and hand tool operators
  •         Warehouse packers

Any job could result in an employee developing RSI. Jobs that include any element where an employee uses equipment for a long period or repetitively could be a problem e.g. holding a phone to your ear, typing, frequent lifting or repeating the same movement over again.

 

What conditions are linked to RSI?

 

RSI is the term used to group together a number of different injuries.  It is also used when damage isn’t limited to a specific muscle, nerve or tendon.

 

Some of the conditions linked to RSI are:

 

Bursitis

This is a condition which affects the elbows and knees.  Our muscles are kept away from our bones by fluid-filled sacs, called bursas.  If these bursas are repeatedly knocked or under continuous pressure then they can swell.  This then causes a lot of pain.  If you kneel or crawl repeatedly for your job, then you are more susceptible to this condition.

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This affects the hand and wrist.  The pain and restriction of movement is caused by compression on the median nerve that travels through the wrist.

 

Epicondylitis

This is also known as Tennis Elbow.  Tennis Elbow is a type of Tendonitis that results in inflammation of the tendons on the outer side of the elbow.

 

All three of the bones in your arm (the humerus, radius and ulna) meet at the elbow joint.  The bicep and tricep muscles allow these bones to bend and straighten, and are attached to the bones by ligaments.  Tennis elbow is when the ligaments on the outside of the elbow become inflamed.

 

Rotator Cuff Syndrome

This affects the shoulders, and it is when either the muscles or tendons in the shoulder are partially or completely torn.  Sometimes this can be caused by a fall, some form of major trauma and even wear and tear (which includes a condition known as Impingement Syndrome).

This ‘wear and tear’ injury is particular common in people who work jobs that require them to continuously make the same shoulder movement.  Some of the professions commonly affected by this are mechanics, painters and decorators and window cleaners.

 

Tendonitis

Tendonitis can impact any joint in the body if there is a tendon that flexes.  It is very often associated with repetitive motions in the arms, fingers, hands and wrists.

Linked to Tendonitis, is a condition called Tenosynovitis, this is the inflammation of the sheath (called the synovium) that surrounds the tendon.

 

Ulnar neuropathy (also known as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)

This is where damage to the ulnar nerve causes pain and numbness in your ring and little finger.  This in turn causes clumsiness and weakness in the hand.  It is often caused by a repeated pressure or strain on the elbow and forearm.

 

Vibration White Finger (also known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome)

This is a common industrial injury caused by the extended use of tools that vibrate.  Vibration White Finger affects the blood vessels, joints and nerves in the wrist and hand.  This condition can be long-lasting, and sometimes even debilitating.

 

Does my employer have to protect me from the risk of RSI?

 

Yes your Employer should protect you from this.  They have a duty of care to their employees and under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, they must protect you from health risks in the workplace.

 

Very often, repetitive strain injuries are avoidable if best practise is followed.  The types of steps your Employer should be taking include:

 

  •         Ensure that the risks from repetitive tasks are controlled
  •         Provide all employees with information and clear instructions on the potential risks of their repetitive tasks
  •         Provide employees with any protective equipment if required, such as gloves and wrist supports
  •         Enable employees to take appropriate breaks from any tasks involving repetitive movements
  •         Monitor employees health when it comes to the risks

 

Taking breaks is usually one of the most important factors in preventing an employee from the risk of RSI.  This doesn’t just mean being entitled to a 10-15 minute break from the task, but also being able to work on a rotation of tasks.

 

Quite some years ago the HSE advised that computer users should take a break of 5-10 minutes every hour, so that they were away from the display screen equipment (DSE).   Hammer-action tools (like drills) should not be used for periods longer than 15 minutes however, some other vibrating tools will only start to create a risk after 60 minutes.

 

There are a lot of ways that the negligence of your Employer could have put you at risk of RSI.  These include not providing you with the necessary information or training on the types of work or activities that may cause RSI.  It can also include, your Employer not giving you guidance on how to set up your DSE (display screen equipment) properly or failing to provide you with protective equipment or the opportunity to take regular breaks.

 

If your Employer has failed to protect you against these things then you may have a claim.  When it comes to bringing a claim, we know that there are a lot of questions surrounding costs, next steps and whether you are eligible to bring one, so we have answered these questions here. (Link to general post FAQs for industrial diseases claim)

DERMATITIS AND SKIN CONDITIONS

Occupational dermatitis and eczema are caused when an employee’s skin comes into contact with an allergen or an irritating substance.  These can include, detergents, diesel, greases, oils, petrol, soaps and other chemicals.   Prolonged contact with water can also cause these skin conditions.

If you have developed eczema or dermatitis and believe you have done so through your line of work, then you might be eligible to claim compensation.  You need to contact us at Smith Jones and speak to one of our team who can talk you through the process.

 

What are some of the symptoms?

 

Some of the main symptoms of occupational eczema or dermatitis are severe dryness and itchiness.

 

Very often these two things then lead to blisters, painful sores and skin infections.

Quite simply, your employer does have a duty of care to protect you against the risks from working with any substances (hazardous or otherwise) that may cause dermatitis or other skin conditions.

Your employer should be providing you with protective equipment if you are working with materials that may cause occupational dermatitis.  If you haven’t been provided with protective equipment and think you are or know you are suffering from occupational dermatitis then you may be able to claim.

 

This also applies to situations where you have been given the wrong protective equipment.

 

What should your employer be doing?

 

When it comes to occupational dermatitis, your employer does have a duty of care to their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act.   They have to protect their employees from health risks in the workplace, and one of those is occupational eczema and dermatitis.

 

The team here at Smith Jones works hard to ensure that you understand the process and the next steps.  So if you think you might be eligible to make a claim then contact us.

 

Under the 2002 Control of Hazardous to Health Regulations an employer should carry out a risk assessment if any of their employees work with substances that could cause any skin conditions.

 

If after the risk assessment, a risk is discovered, then as the employer they should make sure it is controlled.  As employees you should be provided with the necessary information and personal protective equipment (often known as PPE) to work in a safe environment.

 

The most common forms of PPE are:

 

  •       Boots
  •       Gloves
  •       Masks
  •       Overalls

 

Whilst it is crucial your employer does provide you with PPE, part of their duty is to ensure that it is the correct PPE for the job you are doing.  For example fabric overalls might not provide adequate protection if working with liquids.

 

So if your employer has failed to give you information on the substances that can cause these skin conditions and how to avoid them, as well as failing to provide you with equipment or has provided you with the wrong equipment then you may be eligible to claim.  Your employer’s negligence could have put you at risk of a serious skin condition.

 

How do claim against my employer for occupational dermatitis?

 

First of all, if you believe you do have a potential claim against your employer then you need to contact the team as soon as possible.  This is because there are very specific time frames in which someone can bring a Personal Injury claim and so we may need to act quickly.

 

When you contact us we will discuss your condition, your work environment, job role and the substances you believe you were exposed.  We will also discuss whether we think you do have a claim.   You then can decide whether you do want to proceed with bringing a claim and we can discuss next steps and what we require from you.

 

We always keep our clients informed at every stage of the process.

 

If we do think you have a strong case then there are usually 4 stages to go through.

 

Stage 1 is when we gather as much information as we can.  You will see an expert in dermatology and have a medical examination where they will assess your symptoms.  This includes the extent and severity of them, their cause and most importantly whether you are suffering from occupational eczema or dermatitis.

Remember that you don’t have to have the worst case scenario to bring a claim.  You can be suffering from a range of symptoms and that very often depends on what substances your skin has been exposed to.

 

Stage 2 is ensuring you are being treated for the condition.   If the expert concludes that you require any care or support needs we will help you access the correct medical treatment and any rehabilitative treatment as well.

Normally, eczema and dermatitis are treated with medication and other skin treatments.  If you are suffering from a more severe reaction then sometimes you will be recommended to have phototherapy (which is an ultraviolet light treatment).   We will make sure that we work with the experts to ensure you receive the best and most appropriate treatment for your condition.

 

Stage 3 involves compensation.  The team would then calculate how much compensation we believe you are entitled to.  In assessing your claim we will consider:

  •       The severity of your condition
  •       The medical expenses you’ve had to pay to date (and any you will have to pay in the future)
  •       Your current pain and suffering
  •       Your occupation and the impact this condition has on your ability to work.

We would then put forward your case to your employer (or your former employer).  We appreciate that it can be a daunting experience bringing a claim against them, but we will do everything we can to make this an easy and comfortable situation for you.

In an ideal scenario your employer would accept blame early on, but if they do not and they contest the claim then your case may end up being settled in court.   In the most part these types of cases do settle out of court.  If the case was going to require a court appearance we would ensure you were aware of the process and what was expected of you as well as being with you every step of the way.

Stage 4 is when your case should be finalised.  This means that if you have been successful, either in or out of court, then you will receive compensation.  Our fees should mostly be paid by the other side, and only a small proportion would need to be taken from your settlement to cover any shortfall.

We will discuss our fee arrangements with you when we have our first conversation, so you are aware of the process, should you wish to proceed.

VIBRATION WHITE FINGER (VFW)

Vibration White Finger (VWF) is also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome and is a very common industrial injury.  It is caused when an employee his exposed to regular and extended use of vibrating tools. If you believe that you have developed this condition during your employment then contact the team at Smith Jones and we can advise you as to whether you have a claim, as well as next steps.

It might come as a surprise to some, but any kind of vibrating tool, regardless of it’s size can cause repetitive strain injuries  (link to RSI page to enhance SEO with internal link).   It is important that these tools are used correctly and the correct protective measures are in place to prevent RSI injuries, like VWF.

 

What are the symptoms of Vibration White Finger?

 

If someone has the condition VWF then it can affect the blood vessels, joints and nerves in their wrist and hand.   The condition can be something that lasts for months, even years and in serious cases it is completely debilitating.

 

The most common symptoms of Vibration White Finger are:

  •      Intense red colour in the fingers;
  •      Loss of dexterity in the fingers and hands which makes it hard to grip objects;
  •      Pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers;
  •      White colour in the fingers;
  •      Whiteness that starts at the fingertips and spreads down the fingers into the palm of the hand.

 

What should Employers be doing to protect employees from Vibration White Finger?

Employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect their employees from conditions such as Vibration White Finger, however sometimes employees are not properly protected and end up suffering from these conditions.

 

Vibration White Finger is avoidable if those using vibrating machinery and tools do so in an approved manner according to industrial and safety regulations.

Your Employer should make sure that as employees you have all the information and the necessary protective equipment to work safely, this includes:

 

  •      Ensuring that risks from vibration are controlled;
  •      Ensuring that employees take adequate breaks from using vibrating equipment;
  •      Monitoring your health in relation to the risks of Vibration White Finger
  •      Providing employees with personal protective equipment (also known as PPE) and this includes things like anti-vibration gloves
  •      Providing information on the risks associated with vibration machinery and tools, and Vibration White Finger

 

Taking breaks is considered the most important factor.  If an employee is using a hammer-action tool (for example a drill) then they should take a break after 15 minutes of use.  However, other vibrating tools will only begin to create a Vibrating White Finger risk after being used for more than 60 minutes in one go.

If your employer is acting negligently by not giving you adequate breaks, failing to provide you with personal protective equipment or not providing you with information on the risks then you could have a claim.

 

How do I make a claim for Vibration White Finger?

 

Quite simply, you just need to contact the team here at Smith Jones and one of us will talk you through the process, discuss your condition or symptoms as well as get some background details surrounding your job and the work you have done with machinery or tools that meant you had prolonged exposure to hand transmitted vibration.

It is important that you contact us as soon as possible if you think you might have a claim.  This is because there are set time frames which need to be adhered to in order to bring a Personal Injury claim and we may need to act quickly.

 

If we do think that you have a strong possibility of bringing a claim, then we will send you for a medical examination.  Usually conducted by an expert in musculoskeletal disorders who can properly assess your symptoms.    They will look at the severity of your condition and also what might have caused it, and most importantly whether you are in fact suffering from Vibration White Finger.

 

Remember that there are various symptoms, and you don’t have to be suffering from the worst case scenario.  You can be experiencing anything from pain, numbness or tingling in your fingers and hands.  You could also be suffering from loss of dexterity, problems handling or holding small objects and these can have a very big impact on your day-to-day life as well as work.  The most common symptom though is the white discolouration, which can turn a red colour after a period of time.

 

After that we would ensure you are being treated for the condition.   Whilst Vibration White Finger as a condition is usually irreversible, there are treatments available to manage the condition and also make it more tolerable on a day-to-day basis.  These treatments include physiotherapy and medication.

Next, the team would then calculate how much compensation we believe you are entitled to.  We will consider the following factors:

 

  •       The severity of your condition
  •       The medical expenses you’ve had to pay to date (and any you will have to pay in the future)
  •       Your current pain and suffering
  •       Your occupation and the impact this condition has on your ability to work.

 

The next stage would see us putting your case to your employer (or your former employer).  This can be a very daunting experience for some, especially if they are still working for their employer.  We will ensure that we do everything to make this process as comfortable and straight-forward as possible.

Hopefully your employer would accept blame early on, but if they do not and they contest the claim then your case may end up being settled in court.   Normally, these types of cases do settle out of court.  If, however, a court appearance is required we would ensure you were aware of the process and what was expected of you.

Then, if you have been successful, either in or out of court, then you will receive your compensation.  Our fees should mostly be paid by the other side, with a small proportion from your settlement to cover any shortfall (if there is one).

We will discuss our fee arrangements with you when we have our first conversation, so you are aware of the process, should you wish to proceed.