A hazardous substance is any substance – solid, liquid, or gas – with properties that can, potentially, be harmful to humans. Because of this broad definition, many different substances can be classed as hazardous – including toxic fumes, dust particles, chemicals (such as cleaning products), and materials that are likely to be carrying harmful bacteria. This wide variety means that the effects they can have on a person are likely to vary greatly depending on what the substance was, the degree of exposure, and the individual being affected.
The different severities of the effects
Hazardous substances can cause short-term and long-term health problems, both of which have symptoms that can range from mild to severe. The milder effects include slight eye or skin irritation. For example, a baker could get flour particles in an eye, or a hairdresser may spill some hair product on themselves that causes a patch of inflamed skin.
More serious effects can include chronic lung disease and cancer, which are not always immediately obvious to sufferers. For instance, those same flour particles that caused the baker's irritated eye could also potentially cause them to develop serious breathing problems if frequently inhaled over a long period of time, and farmers who spend a lot of time exposed to pesticides are at an increased risk of developing leukaemia and other forms of cancer.
Occasionally, either through the gradual worsening of a serious condition or the acute exposure to a particularly dangerous substance, death can be the result.
The most common effects
A few of the common health problems that can occur from exposure to hazardous substances are listed below:
- Dermatitis – an itchy, inflammation of the skin caused by direct skin contact to substances.
- Asthma – a result of developing an allergy to substances used at work
- Losing consciousness – a result of being overcome by toxic fumes
- Cancer – likely to appear long after the exposure to the substance that caused it
- Viral Infection – caused by bacteria and other micro-organisms (biological agents)
This list is far from exhaustive. It is also important to note that different individuals may have very different reactions to the same substance. Something that has an extreme effect on one person could have no effect at all on another, even if both have experienced the same or similar exposure to that substance.
Thompsons can help you find justice
If you have been exposed to a hazardous substance and suffered an injury or illness as a result, you could be entitled to compensation. If you are working in a job and it is known that you will be encountering dangerous substances on a daily basis, your employer has a duty to ensure you are trained and adequately protected. Sometimes, however, this responsibility is not upheld and it's the employees who pay the price.
Thompsons Solicitors can help you make a claim if you feel that your illness or injury sustained at work was due to your employer's negligence and that they have failed to comply with the appropriate health and safety regulations.
Start your compensation claim now. Call us on 0800 0891331 for an initial discussion, where you will receive free, no-obligation help and advice.