Chemical Hazards at Work & Personal Injury Risks

Whether it's in an office, factory or outdoor setting, use of chemicals is widespread in the workplace. It can be something as simple as printer toner to the use of pesticides or other other chemicals, as part of your job. What are the types of personal injury risks found at work, in relation to chemicals and how do you deal with them, either as an employer or employee?

What Constitutes a Chemical Hazard?

The Health and Safety Authority describes a chemicial danger or hazard as any "chemical, in either gas, liquid or solid form, that has the potential to cause harm". Chemicals hazards can range from those which cause skin irritations to carcinogens. Injury or illness can be caused by skin contact, inhalation or ingestion. Dangerous substances can manifest themseleves in powder, gas, liquids, dusts or in solid form. 

Chemical hazards can come in different forms at work and in vastly different work settings and may include, among others:

  • Solvents and cleaning agents
  • Spray paint or powder coatings
  • Pesticides 
  • Glues or resins
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes
  • Dust from wood based or other products 

Substances can be deemed as hazardous not only becuase of their make up, but because of how they are used in the workplace. In order for a substance to be seen as hazardous, it must be something which has the potential to affect physical health and have biological effects. Chemical hazards have to be managed carefully, paying detailed attention to all legislation. 

Keeping Employees Safe

It's up to employers to make sure that all employees are properly trained in the use of hazardous substances and to inform staff of the potential risks associated with any substance they are required to use in the workplace. Proper labelling, information and training all help keep employees safe. Your employer must give you a safe place of work and provide you with safe systems of work. This means that all equipment, chemicals and hazardous substances have to be properly stored, maintained and fit for use. It’s your employer’s responsibility to make sure that you’ve had adequate training and supervision to use any hazardous chemical. They also need to have systems in place that protect you from as best possible, from risk of injury.

Employees play their part in making sure that they adhere to health and safety rules and that they don’t take unnecessary risks with chemicals at work; nor should they be asked to by their supervisor or employer. See the Pilar Guide on Accidents at Work for more details on protecting yourself in the workplace.

Chemical Hazards & Personal Injury

In recent times there is a heightened awareness of the potential risk of substances used at work, whether it is in relation to pesiticides, cleaning materials or other substances commonly used by employees, with the recent Roundup Court Case in the US, being a case in point. 

Exposure to hazardous chemicals has the potential to cause side effects. These can include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • skin conditions including rashes & other skin problems
  • poisoning
  • burns
  • birth defects
  • lung damage 
  • kidney or liver disorders

Some chemicals are also carcinogens and must be treated with utmost care. The type of exposure and duration of this exposure to chemicals is key in relation to health and can have lasting effects. Again, training, information and good management are vital to protecting the health of employees. 

If you have suffered injury or illness due to the negligence of others, you may have a case to make a personal injury* claim. At Pilar our solicitors will advise you on whether we think you have grounds to make a claim. We will give you honest and expert opinion about all aspects of your case, using clear and jargon free language.


PILAR is a network of law firms founded by Mary Flanagan, Niamh Moran and Anthony Carmody, Solicitors. Together, we form a skilled group of lawyers who have joined forces to provide a specialist offering in catastrophic personal injury* and litigation cases, including those relating to injury caused the chemical hazards at work.

You can call us on 01 2943846 to discuss your case in confidence . You can also contact us by our easy to use form on our homepage.







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