Industrial Diseases and Injuries

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Around 1.3 million workers in the UK suffer from work-related ill health


Industrial diseases and injuries are conditions resulting from exposure to occupational hazards in the workplace over a period of time. 

Have you or someone you love developed an illness or disease because of exposure to something harmful at work? If so, and if the exposure or harmful working conditions resulted from the negligence, recklessness, or unreasonable conduct of another person, then you could be eligible for compensation and could make industrial disease claims.


Initiating industrial disease claims from your employer may seem daunting. However, your employer bears a legal obligation and duty of care to ensure your safety at work and provide a secure working environment. With this in mind, if you suffer from an industrial disease or condition caused or exacerbated by your work, you have the right to pursue justice.

Thompsons is one of the leading personal injury law firms in Scotland. We have specialist teams of solicitors, solicitor advocates and other professionals who deal solely with industrial disease claims.

We understand the fears and anxiety that go alongside making a claim against your employer so we always aim to explain your rights and the processes clearly to you from the outset.

To read about how we have helped other workers in Scotland, why not visit our Case Studies  section which details a selection of the cases we have taken on including a claim for noise related hearing loss and carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is an industrial disease?

An industrial disease refers to an illness or condition contracted as a direct result of workplace exposure to hazardous substances or unsafe working conditions. These ailments can encompass respiratory problems from inhaling harmful fumes, repetitive strain injuries due to prolonged repetitive tasks, or even cancers caused by exposure to carcinogens. 

Such ‘occupational hazards’ vary according to the type of work being carried out, but could be exposure to harmful substances, such as dust, fumes, and chemicals, or harmful activities, such as using vibrating tools or carrying out repetitive processes. Sometimes, harmful working environments can cause industrial injuries, such as working in a loud factory.

There are many different types of industrial disease, but some of the most well-known relate to asbestos. 

You’ll find more information on this in our asbestos-related diseases section.

Thompsons can help you make a compensation claim for occupational ill health. Find out more about industrial diseases and injuries and how to make a compensation claim below.

Seeking compensation for such conditions falls under an industrial disease claim, where affected individuals pursue legal action against negligent employers. Thompsons Solicitors can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the complexities of industrial disease claims, offering expertise, support, and representation to ensure rightful compensation for those impacted by workplace hazards.

Industrial Disease Claims for Families

Industrial diseases such as mesothelioma, respiratory disease, and dermatitis require significant lifestyle adjustments and any individual diagnosed with an industrial disease deserves full entitlement to compensation under the law.

Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland specialise in assisting claimants and their families in navigating industrial disease claims and obtaining recognition for illnesses stemming from workplace shortcomings. Additionally, if a family member is too ill or incapacitated due to an industrial disease, we provide support in pursuing claims on their behalf.

As a claimant-only firm, we exclusively represent victims, advocating for compensation from negligent parties, regardless of their size or influence. How to claim for industrial diseases? Thompsons Solicitors can guide you through every step of the process.


If the person diagnosed with an industrial disease has full mental capacity and is physically able, they are required to make the claim on their own behalf. However, even in these circumstances you can be of assistance by helping to organise meetings, medical appointments, the gathering of evidence and other forms of practical and emotional support.

In the event that the case reaches the courts and the claimant is too unwell to attend hearings, you may attend instead, but a note from a GP or other doctor is necessary to confirm this.


Claiming compensation is about ensuring that you and your family are not left out of pocket as a result of an industrial disease that has been caused by the negligence of an employer. We work to protect the rights, health and economic interests of claimants and their families. This includes securing compensation for lost earnings, lost overtime, lost bonuses, medical expenses, the cost of equipment, retraining, rehabilitation and more. 

Furthermore, when appropriate we work to secure compensation for the cost of private treatment so that recovery is not slowed by NHS waiting lists. If your family member is concerned about "making a fuss" it is important to remember that they have a legal right to pursue compensation; a successful claim will only serve to reduce the amount of "fuss" and inconvenience felt in the long-term.


If an employee is too unwell to work, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can be paid by an employer for up to 28 weeks. To be eligible for SSP you will need to have been off work for 4 or more days in a row (this includes non-working days).

Some people, especially those with non-life threatening occupational illnesses, may not want to make a claim, particularly if they plan to continue working for their employer. So, they may take some time off work on SSP and go back to work after the 28 week entitlement is up or they might go back early because SSP is far below their full wage. If they are not fully recovered from their illness this can cause serious problems.

At Thompsons we can help accident victims by ensuring their rights. This means that your industrial illness claim will take into account the full time you need to recover properly and the compensation amount will reflect your full pay including any lost overtime and bonuses.


As the relative, spouse or partner of a person who has died as a result of an industrial disease, you are entitled to make a claim as long as it is three years within the date of death or within three years of the date on which the cause of death became known.

If a claimant dies before an ongoing claim is settled, you may be able to continue with the industrial disease claim on their behalf. Talk to Thompsons, so that we may advise you in these difficult situations.

Industrial Disease Claims FAQs

If you have suffered illness as a result of your working life and your employer failed to provide you with adequate protection and training, or failed to take steps to provide safe working conditions, you may be able to claim compensation. 

Read on for more answers to frequently asked questions about industrial disease and injury claims.

It is very rare for the employer concerned to actually shoulder the payment of industrial disease compensation. In the vast majority of cases compensation comes from your employer's "Employers Liability Insurance". It is a legal requirement for all UK employers to have a policy of this type. Furthermore, in the event that you are still employed by the defendant there are a number of legal safeguards in place to protect you from unfair dismissal or discrimination made on the basis of your claim.

Yes, this is because the claim is made against the employer's insurers rather than the employer itself.

Although it is possible that your case will go to the court, only a fraction of cases ever reach this stage. Instead, it is likely that it will be in the interests of all parties concerned to settle without courtroom litigation – in fact, the courts encourage such an approach.

There are various funding options available to Thompsons' clients. However, it is worth bearing in mind that we offer No Win No Fee funding. This means that you make no outlays whatsoever unless you win your case – without exceptions. If your claim is successful then a portion of your compensation is set aside to cover court costs and related fees. We will always discuss this with you at the outset of your claim, so that there are no unwelcome surprises should you receive a damages award.

You can make a claim up to three years from the date that you knew or ought to have known that you were suffering from a work-related illness, or three years from the date of last exposure to any substance or process which has caused the condition (whichever is the later date).

Given that many industrial diseases take a long time to develop, it may be that you need to make a claim decades after the firm responsible for your illness has ceased to trade. But, as long as it is within three years of diagnosis of an industrial disease, it may still be possible to claim compensation when retired or no longer work for the former employer responsible for causing your illness.

In many cases you can still claim state benefits even while being the recipient of industrial disease compensation. For example, those with asbestos illnesses still receive payments under the Pneumoconiosis Workers Compensation Scheme. Furthermore, a good personal injury lawyer can help you establish a personal injury trust so that you can manage your finances in the way that is most advantageous to you.

It is possible to claim compensation on behalf of a deceased family member. However, the claim must be brought within three years of the date of death. Similarly, if the claimant dies during the course of the case, the family can continue with the claim on his or her behalf.

However, if your family member has an industrial disease and later dies from an unrelated incident, you would have three years to claim in respect of the work related illness from the date they knew or ought to have known they were suffering from the condition, not from the date of the unrelated death.

Most industrial disease claims are proven on the basis of medical records and witness statements. However, in claims relating to more recent periods of occupation it may be possible to also draw on official workplace health and safety documentation.

Yes. Many of our claimants now live abroad in locations such as France, South Africa and Australia. If you worked in Scotland before you moved overseas, you can bring a claim for compensation in the usual way.

Industrial disease claim process: Next Steps

The team of industrial disease claim solicitors at Thompsons has extensive experience dealing with occupational health claims and we only ever work for claimants, never insurers. We believe passionately that it is also our role to campaign for better, safer working conditions for employees in Scotland.

To get your industrial disease or injury claim underway, just call Thompsons today or use our contact form to tell us a bit about your circumstances so that we can call you back at a time to suit you.


There are around 6,000 new cases of work-related skin disease in the UK each year. Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from the risk of developing occupational skin diseases such as dermatitis.

For more information about how Thompsons can help you, click on the button below.


According to HSE figures for 2016/17 around 20,000 workers in the UK suffer from work-related hearing loss. Thompsons Solicitors can help you claim for tinnitus, noise induced hearing loss, acoustic shock and more..

For more information, click on the button below.


Working with vibrating machinery or carrying out repetitive processes at work may cause a number of industrial injuries such as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), vibration white finger (VWF), carpal tunnel syndrome, Tendonitis and Dupuytren's contracture.

Click on the button below to find out how Thompsons Solicitors can advise you of your rights and how we may be able to help you claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.


Respiratory disease is one of the major causes of death in the UK and Europe. Occupational respiratory diseases include asbestos-related diseases, occupational asthma, pneumoconiosis, silicosis and lung cancer.

Click on the button below to find out more information about respiratory disease and your right to compensation.


Hazardous substances can damage health in many ways, from causing irritation, allergic reactions and short-term illnesses to long-term health conditions and in some cases even death. If you have suffered exposure to harmful chemical, fumes, dust or other substances, Thompsons can help you claim compensation.

Click on the button below to find out more information about hazardous substances in the workplace.


Find out what is involved in making a claim for compensation from your employer if you have suffered an industrial disease. We can let you know what you need to make a start, what the process entails, how long you can expect a claim to take, and more.

Click on the button below to find out more information about making a claim for occupational ill-health.


What is an industrial disease? Who will pay compensation related to occupational ill-health? Can you claim if your employer is no longer in business? What are the time limits to claim? How much will the whole process cost?

For the answers to all these questions and more, click on the button below to read our industrial disease claim FAQs.

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