What is an industrial disease?

Also known as an ‘occupational illness’, an industrial disease typically arises as result of exposure to harmful substances at work, which cause injury.

What are some examples of industrial disease?

There are many different industrial diseases which are caused by a number of substances.

Examples are:

  • Asbestos related diseases
  • Asthma
  • Deafness
  • Dermatitis
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Silicosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

No matter what the disease, if an individual’s health has been impacted as a result of negligent exposure to a hazardous substance in the workplace, then they can make a claim for compensation.

Why was asbestos used so much in construction?

Asbestos has many benefits in construction and other industries such as the textile industry. The substance is heat resistant, provides excellent insulation, can be woven into a fabric and is also very strong and flexible. Its clear to see why the material was so popular before the dangers of asbestos were revealed.

Should my employer have protected me from exposure to harmful materials etc?

There is little dispute as to the test for liability in disease cases. The question is whether the risk of personal injury arising from an employees exposure to a harmful material etc ought reasonably to have been foreseen by a careful employer, to the extent that the employer should have taken precautions or at the very least sought advice as to what (if any) precautions he should take.

Employers should assess the risks from substances or materials used in the workplace and implement suitable and sufficient controls to protect employees.

Am I more at risk from asbestosis and mesothelioma if I’m exposed to higher levels of asbestos?

Asbestosis is a dose related disease which means the more asbestos that is inhaled, the bigger the risk of contracting asbestosis and the worse the disease will be. Mesothelioma is different as even minimal exposure can cause the illness and the effects will be the same, no matter how much asbestos an individual has been exposed to. However, with mesothelioma, the more an individual is exposed to asbestos, the greater the risk that the fibres ingested will eventually trigger the disease.

If I have been diagnosed with lung cancer and worked with asbestos in the past – is this likely to be the cause of my lung cancer?

Unlike asbestosis and mesothelioma, lung cancer can be caused by a number of different factors and not just exposure to asbestos. For an individuals lung cancer claim to be successful it is necessary to show that their culpable exposure was caused by the company they were working for, rather than the cancer being caused by another factor such as smoking for example.

How much compensation will I get?

As with all compensation claims theres no set amount awarded for any particular type of claim. Once our Solicitors have gathered the evidence, including the medical evidence of your condition, they will be able to give you an accurate idea of how much compensation you will receive. As well as claiming for the symptoms of your disease, you will also be able to claim for any loss of amenity. any loss of earnings, travel expenses, care provided by family members and numerous potential future losses

The amount you are awarded will reflect these losses and the impact the disease has or will have on you or possibly your family.

Please see our articles on different ‘heads of claim’ for more information.

A loved one has died as a result of being exposed to a hazardous substance in the workplace – can I claim on their behalf?

Yes, whether a claim has already been started or not, our Solicitors can help you make a claim on behalf of a loved one who has passed away due to an industrial disease. 

Can I get state/government benefits for my industrial disease?

You may be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB), depending on the level of your disablement, and what condition you are suffering from. However, you won’t be able to claim IIDB if you were self-employed at the time your illness, disease or injury was caused. You can get further information here, and find out which conditions are covered here. Any other questions about IIDB can be answered by your regional IIDB centre.

Will I still get my industrial disease benefits if I receive money from a compensation claim?

Yes, as they are not means-tested. However, a compensation settlement may affect certain other benefits that are means-tested. See our guide, How does your personal injury compensation affect your benefits?, for more information on this.

What is a prescribed industrial disease?

Prescribed diseases are those on the list of diseases and illnesses for which the government pays certain benefits, providing the illnesses were contracted in the course of employment or an approved training programme. You can read more details about the definition of a prescribed disease here, and find the current list of prescribed diseases here.

Is there a reporting procedure for industrial diseases or occupational illnesses?

For certain illnesses or injuries, the employer must report these to the Health and Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

Are all occupational illnesses or industrial diseases reportable under RIDDOR?

No. Only those listed in the regulations are required to be reported. They are:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • cramp of the hand or forearm
  • occupational dermatitis
  • hand arm vibration syndrome
  • occupational asthma
  • tendonitis or tenosynovitis

Also reportable are:

  • occupational cancers
  • diseases associated with biological agents and serious pathogens.

What government compensation schemes are currently open for industrial diseases?

There are very few government compensation schemes still open to pursue a claim through. The open schemes are:

  • Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis Scheme (CWPS)
  • Diffuse mesothelioma – either the 2008 scheme or the DMPS

Does noise-induced hearing loss count as an industrial disease?

Yes, it can count as a form of occupational illness. While it is not necessarily a disease, it is a chronic condition that can be caused by environments in your workplace.

I feel loyal to my old employer and don’t want to damage them financially.

Employers must take out liability insurance, for precisely the purpose of paying out for any personal injury liabilities such as your claim. So, when you make a successful claim against an employer or former employers, the money is actually paid by their insurers.

The employment that caused my injury or disease was many years ago. Can I still claim?

Yes, especially if your condition has taken many years to develop or show symptoms. For more information, read Industrial Disease: You Might Have More Than 3 Years Since Employment To Claim.

What does the ‘date of knowledge’ mean for industrial disease?

The date of knowledge means the time you started to experience symptoms of your illness or injury, or when you thought that perhaps your employment had been the cause of your ill health. For more information on the date of knowledge and whether the time limit has already started to run, read Industrial Disease: You Might Have More Than 3 Years Since Employment To Claim.

I don’t work for the employer that caused my injury any more. Does that matter?

No, you can still pursue a personal injury compensation claim against a previous employer.

The employer that caused my illness or injury has ceased trading or gone out of business. Can I still claim?

Yes, we can trace them on your behalf. It doesn’t matter whether they are still trading or have gone out of business.

I don’t know if my illness or injury was caused by my work or whether I would have got it anyway. How do I know or how can you prove it?

You may not know, but if you have health problems and you think they have been caused by your job or work conditions, then seek medical attention and contact us as soon as possible.

Do I have to get a medical examination?

In most cases, yes, so an independent medical expert can assess your health problems and the impact on your life.