Industrial diseases are caused by hazardous working conditions and can be life threatening.
A victim may become ill due to long or short-term exposure to a harmful substance such as toxic dust, poisonous gas, or exposure to vibrations or excessive sound levels. Symptoms may only become apparent many years later.
Asbestos and mesothelioma
One of the most notorious industrial diseases is known as mesothelioma. It’s a rare and incurable condition where the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart becomes cancerous. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibres, which are widely used in industrial and domestic applications as fire resistant insulation. Asbestos fibres that become airborne can lodge in the lungs or other organs. Although banned in construction projects since 1999, many buildings still contain asbestos and workers may become unwittingly exposed to its harmful effects, and only become aware of the damage to their health many years later.
According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland, painters, plumbers, carpenters and electricians are particularly at risk of exposure while undertaking maintenance, installation or repairs of buildings containing asbestos. The safe exposure limit is 1/10th of one asbestos fibre per cubic centimetre of air. While much asbestos remains safe if undisturbed, the types of work outlined above usually involve disturbing existing insulation and it’s in those circumstances that the risk of exposure is increased. Once an employer becomes aware that asbestos exposure may occur on a site where their employees work, they are obliged by law to carry out a risk assessment.
A mesothelioma diagnosis represents a serious difficulty for any family given that life expectancy is low. Treatment costs can be significant and a surviving family may be left with no source of income not to mention the loss of a loved one. In these circumstances, the survivors will be entitled to compensation where the exposure to asbestos can be attributed to negligence on the part of an employer.
HAVS and industrial deafness
Other more common industrial diseases include Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and industrial deafness. HAVS is an avoidable condition that arises from the extended use of hand-held power tools such as sanders, grinders or jackhammers. As the tool is held, the vibrations travel from the hands and through the arms. According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland, long-term, regular exposure is known to lead to potentially permanent and debilitating health effects known as HAVS, vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome. Employers are obliged under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2007 to protect their employees from health risks associated with vibrations.
Industrial deafness can occur in certain high-risk occupations such as construction, mining, truck or train driving or in the military, police or firefighting. The human ear can only cope with short bursts of very loud sounds. Prolonged exposure to high sound pressure levels can give rise to significant hearing loss if appropriate hearing protection is not provided. The effects of hearing damage may be wide ranging including: tinnitus, psychological effects such as depression and memory loss.
Industrial Disease Lawyers in Dublin, Ireland
You can contact Sherwin O’Riordan today if you feel you may be suffering from an industrial disease. Legal advice is available.