Work involving dangerous chemicals – preventing personal injury | LabourBlawg

Work involving dangerous chemicals – preventing personal injury

by Tim Bishop on January 10, 2014

Preventing injury to those who come into contact with hazardous chemicals in the course of employment in the workplace needn’t be complicated. Quite simply, the key to avoiding injuries to employees is to carefully plan and vigilantly enforce a comprehensive health and safety procedure. Within this health and safety procedure hazardous chemicals present in the workplace should be identified and provisions should be made for how to negate or remove the risk of injury when working with such hazardous substances.

A chemical can be classed as dangerous if it could cause damage to a worker or the workplace if discharged. Health and safety plans which deal with hazardous substances should focus on ensuring that workers are not directly exposed to the chemical and that the chemical cannot be easily released into the workplace. Various steps can be taken to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace involving dangerous chemicals, for example:

• Provide all staff with the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to guard against injury when working with the chemicals e.g. breathing equipment, gloves, eyewear, boots and thick overalls. Staff must also be trained in how to properly wear and use this equipment.

• Keep the workplace clean, dry and free or trip and slip hazards

• Research the chemicals which will be present in the workplace and read the information which manufacturers supply on the toxicity, storage and nature (e.g. corrosive, caustic, explosive, flammable etc.) of the substance. Manufacturers are legally compelled to provide such information and it is crucial that employers pay attention to the safe exposure limit listed.

• Communicate the dangers of certain chemicals to staff so that they understand the substances they are working with. It is also crucial that they are given the health and safety training needed to spot risks associated with the chemicals and are shown how to use them safely.

• Train employees in how to identify health problems arising as a result of working with dangerous chemicals e.g. impaired vision, headaches, respiratory problems or irritated skin, eyes etc.

• Ensure that all equipment used for the storage or transfer of such chemicals is properly maintained to avoid leaks or spillages

There are very clear regulations relating to health and safety for those working with dangerous chemicals and employers who fully comply with such regulations can be confident that they will not be liable in the unlikely event that a worker sustains an injury. However, employers who do not comply with these regulations could find themselves facing personal injury compensation claims should an employee sustain an injury. Employers have a legal duty of care to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees in the workplace and if they fail to take every reasonably practicable step to do so, they can be said to have failed to discharge this legal obligation. Indeed, the consequences of such negligence can be terrible because of the horrific injuries and even fatalities that dangerous chemicals can cause. It is not only employees who are at risk though; anyone near the factory could also be at risk, so it is crucial that employers take their duties seriously.

If you or a loved one has sustained a workplace chemical injury you may find that you are entitled to claim compensation for the pain, suffering and financial loss you experience. Make sure that you appoint a specialist personal injury solicitor to help you claim the compensation you deserve.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop, specialist Salisbury solicitors specialising in personal injury compensation and medical negligence claims. For help in claiming for a personal injury, call their team on [Salisbury] 01722 422300 or visit their main website at or their specialist accident claim website at




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