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Workplace cancer claims

Industrial cancer claims

Evidence from the Health and Safety Executive and from Cancer Research UK suggests that a significant number of the cancer cases that are diagnosed in the UK each year occur as a result of occupational exposure to carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, arsenic, silica dust, aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, radon and pesticides.

A diagnosis with cancer is devastating news and the fact that a cancer may have been caused by exposure to carcinogens in the workplace can be overlooked by GPs.  However, it is well known that some particular cancers are caused by occupational or environmental factors and it may be the case that the victim is entitled to state benefits, or to bring a legal claim for compensation. Industrial disease lawyers at Leigh Day are highly experienced in bringing occupational cancer claims and have successfully secured large amounts of compensation for the families of people who have died from cancers caused by occupational exposure to dangerous substances. Common occupational cancers include lung cancer, cancer of the nasal passages, larynx, oesophagus, bladder and skin.

Mesothelioma claims and silicosis claims

Responsibility for lung cancer commonly comes before the court.  While the inhalation of asbestos fibres is well-known as a cause of lung cancer other known industrial hazards include silica dust and arsenic dust or vapours.  Silica dust can also be a cause of cancer and Leigh Day’s Richard Meeran is presently representing a group of African miners bringing claims for silicosis in the Johannesburg High Court.

Bladder cancer claims

Lawyers working in the area of industrial disease claims have noticed that, in the same way that they have been approached by increasing numbers of people suffering from mesothelioma in recent years, the number of other industrial cancer claims cases is increasing. In particular there has been a rise in the number of bladder cancer cases being reported from people who have worked in the chemicals sector, paint production, rubber manufacture and pigments and dye stuffs production.

Cancer Research has noted that bladder cancer was one of the first cancers shown to be associated with industry when cases of bladder cancer were reported in in a German aniline dye factory in 1985. In the1950s the risk from aromatic amines, particularly benzidine and a-and ß-naphthylamine, was established. Aromatic amines were widely used in the manufacture of dyes and pigments for textiles, paints, plastics, paper and hair dyes, in drugs, pesticides and as antioxidants in the rubber industry.

Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are by-products of combustion processes and therefore present in a range of industries, has also been investigated. It is calculated that about 4% of bladder cancer cases in European men are due to exposure to PAH. A recent meta-analysis showed a risk increase of about 30% for bladder cancer in painters.

Nasal and liver cancer claims

Some particular nasal cancers are known to be caused by exposure to wood dust, or exposure to solvents in shoe production.  Angiosarcoma of the liver can be caused by exposure to products in the PVC industry. In 2008, 3,594 people in the UK were diagnosed with liver cancer. Standards of health and safety in the workplace are much better than 30 years ago, but the legacy of lax levels of worker protection is sadly starting to reveal itself as more people in retirement develop cancers that were caused by occupational exposure.

Leigh Day: Industrial diseases claims specialists

Industrial disease claims specialist Daniel Easton says:

“Legal cases for industrial diseases can be complex due to the issues in proving that somebody was exposed to significant quantities of the hazardous substance.  One particular issue is that many cancers have a “latency period” meaning the symptoms do not develop for many years after the exposure.  However, there are procedures in place to assist claimants through the courts to ensure that cases are heard quickly and effectively by an experienced judge.”

To speak to one of our industrial disease claims lawyers please email Daniel Easton or phone on 020 7650 1200 for a free initial consultation.

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