An employee’s “alarm bells” should go off whenever they are called upon by their manager to just “quickly do something – it won’t take more than a few minutes” and forego the usual risk assessment or protective equipment.
Even in today’s more health and safety conscious workplaces, accident compensation solicitors are still frequently asked for accident claims to be made against companies who were negligent on at least one or more occasions where there was lack of training or personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied.
While PPE, such as safety boots, gloves, goggles, face masks, safety harnesses and hi-vis clothing are standard on most construction industry sites, there are numerous other occupations or environments, which are always potentially dangerous.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) stipulate that “Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain, which could inflict injuries to the following body areas:
• Lungs, e.g. from breathing in contaminated air
• Head and Feet, e.g. from falling materials
• Eyes, e.g. from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids
• Skin, e.g. from contact with corrosive materials
• Body, e.g. from extremes of heat or cold
Working with paints, oils, chemicals, solvents, and other potentially toxic agents, which can release noxious fumes or airborne contaminants, all require their own different types of breathing masks or respirators. This means that some respirators rely on filtering contaminants from the surrounding air, such as simple filtering facemasks, while other types are power-assisted respirators.
The correct type of respirator filter must be used as each is effective for only a restrictive range of substances and filters have only a limited life. Where there is a shortage of oxygen or any danger of losing consciousness due to exposure to high levels of harmful fumes, breathing apparatus must be used and not a filtering cartridge.
According to the HSE, between 2010-11, an estimated 30,000 workers reported breathing / lung problems caused or made worse by their work.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which identifies ‘obstructive’ lung conditions like bronchitis and emphysema and reduces airflow out of the lungs, is also estimated to be 15-20 per cent workplace-related.