Workplace and Industrial Disease Claims

Sometimes employers do not take sufficient safeguards to prevent exposure to substances or work conditions which are known to cause disease and illness.

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Guiding you through all aspects of workplace and industrial disease claims

Sometimes employers do not take sufficient safeguards to prevent exposure to substances or work conditions which are known to cause disease and illness.

We have many years' experience of handling workplace disease and illness claims.  We offer a service which goes well beyond obtaining compensation.  We are here to support you.  We will provide expert legal advice and where possible obtain early financial assistance and rehabilitation. 

As employers must carry employer’s liability insurance, most claims are in fact handled by the insurer not the employer, even if the employer is no longer trading.

At Higgs LLP we prioritise your early rehabilitation needs and help with securing early interim payments wherever possible.  We also have an in-house client support manager who can help support you with a wide range of social needs.  We also offer ‘no win no fee’ agreements to fund your claim, which means that there is no financial risk to you if you lose.

Start your workplace and industrial disease claim

How our solicitors can help?

Our solicitors are specialists in workplace disease and illness claims.  They understand how stressful it can be to make a legal claim, while at the same time trying to adapt to your condition, they also understand the impact that this has on your family.  

Where possible we arrange case manager support and interim payments, whilst we work to secure the best overall outcome for you and your family.  We always put you at the centre of everything we do.

As we are a broad-based practice, we can provide holistic support and work with our colleagues in other legal disciplines to support your case, if needed.  It means you will benefit from a seamless, one-team approach.  You are in safe hands.

We are:

  • One of three law firms selected by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to support patients at the hospital as part of the 4 Trauma 4 Patients support service
  • One of three firms selected by the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire operated by Cardinal Management to support patients as part of the Major Trauma Signposting project
  • One of three firms selected by the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital operated by Cardinal Management to support patients as part of the Major Trauma Signposting project
  • Accredited members of Headway’s Head Injury Solicitors Directory
  • Spinal Injuries Association trusted legal partner for the West Midlands
  • Serious Injury Guide signatories
  • Members of:
    • The Motor Accident Solicitors Society
    • Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
    • Birmingham Law Society
    • Approved Law Society Personal Injury Panel and Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel
    • Approved by Association for Victims of Medical Accidents
    • Recognised in Chambers and Partners Directory
    • Recommended by the Legal 500 as leading personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers.

Report the disease or illness to your employer

When you develop a work-related illness or disease, you should report it to your employer as soon as possible.  Depending on the type of work disease or illness, your employer may have to report it to the Health and Safety Executive.  This is a government agency which is responsible for workplace safety.  The requirement to report to the HSE is contained in the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.  The so-called RIDDOR reports must be made by your employer when there is a diagnosis of certain occupational diseases likely to have been caused or made worse by your work.  These diseases include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • severe cramp of the hand or forearm;
  • occupational dermatitis;
  • hand-arm vibration syndrome;
  • occupational asthma;
  • tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm;
  • any occupational cancer;
  • any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent.

Employer’s disclosure

Very often, we will not have all the relevant evidence on which to make a full assessment of liability for your disease or illness.  This is because the employer holds all the relevant records, such as risk assessments, training records, inspection logs etc. 

When the employer responds to the letter of claim, if it denies full responsibility or argues that you should share some of the responsibility for your illness, then they should disclose all relevant documents.  They should not cherry-pick the disclosed documents. 

If the employer does not disclose any documents, or if on reviewing what they have sent it is clear to us that not all relevant documents have been provided, then we will ask for these.  If they refuse or delay, we will apply to the court for an order requiring their disclosure.  At this stage, we should be able to give you a more accurate assessment of the prospects of your claim.

Examples of workplace and industrial disease


Asthma can be a particularly debilitating condition which can be caused by exposure to substances at work, such as:

  • glutaraldehyde and latex (nurses)
  • grain or flour (bakers)
  • isocyanides (paint sprayers)
  • resins or glues (many occupations)
  • solder (welders)
  • wood dust (joiners, carpenters, woodworkers)


Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin, and there are two main types:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis – this is where a person becomes allergic to a substance either immediately or after many years of exposure
  • Irritant contact dermatitis – a single contact with a substance causes this
  • The most common substances that cause dermatitis are flour, bleach, latex, rubber, ink, glue, and paint.

Vibration White Finger

Triggered by vibrating machinery, early signs of vibration white finger, or VWF, are tingling, numbness and whiteness in the fingertips. The greater your exposure to vibration, the more likely you will suffer worse symptoms. Equipment with known high vibration levels include pneumatic drills, concrete breakers, angle grinders, needle guns and chainsaws. If you have used any of these or similar tools, your employer has a legal duty to protect you from excessive vibration by following these simple steps:

  • Considering job rotation
  • Eliminating vibration or, if this is not practical, reducing exposure to the lowest possible level, implementing work equipment maintenance programmes
  • Limiting the length and size of exposure
  • Providing adequate personal protective equipment to dampen vibration exposure
  • Providing suitable training
  • Selecting equipment of appropriate ergonomic design


Receiving a diagnosis of asbestosis is devastating. Caused by heavy asbestos exposure, usually over many years, it is a particularly debilitating disease that also leaves you at risk of developing other asbestos-related illnesses.

Our job is to support you through the challenges that you or a loved one faces.  

If you have lost a loved one to asbestosis, we will support you with making a claim so you can at least try to gain financial security. If there is a coroner’s inquest, we may also be able to support you at the hearing to gain some answers.  

Lung cancer

Smokers and non-smokers can develop asbestos-related lung cancer, and unfortunately, by the time it is diagnosed, the condition often has a poor prognosis. In the UK, over 43,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

Due to the short prognosis that is often given with asbestos-related lung cancer, our team work fast to help you get the medical care that you need. A claim must be made within three years of diagnosis of the illness being linked to asbestos exposure, and a claim can still be made if an employer is no longer in operation.

Even after a loved one’s death, families can claim compensation for lost financial dependency and other losses. If, tragically, you have lost someone to lung cancer, we will support you with making a claim so you can gain financial security. If there is a coroner’s inquest, we may also be able to support you at the hearing to gain some answers.


In the UK, 2,700 people each year are diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos - Asbestos exposure is virtually the sole known cause of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma affects the mesothelium, which is the protective lining surrounding the lungs. The tumour encases the lungs and restricts breathing. If you or your family have been affected by mesothelioma, we understand the disease and the special legal process designed to allow mesothelioma claims to be settled as quickly as possible.

Pleural thickening

Receiving a diagnosis of pleural thickening is life-changing. It usually develops from heavy asbestos exposure. The heavier the exposure, the more likely the condition.

We understand the limitations caused by pleural thickening, reducing your lung function. You may be unable to climb stairs, not walk any distance without getting out of breath or become reliant on oxygen in the home. If you can no longer perform the simple day-to-day tasks, we also understand the impact this has on the family.

Your employer is legally responsible for protecting you from dangerous substances at work. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) set out several steps your employer must take, such as minimising the risk of injury, providing training and adequate safety equipment, providing suitable protective equipment, appropriate extraction facilities and regular health surveillance. If they fail to take these steps, you may be able to make a compensation claim.  

Our accreditations

Head Injury Solicitor 2024
SIA Trusted Partner
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"They are really carving out a reputation as leading personal injury lawyers"

Chambers and Partners

"The focus seems to be on catastrophic injury, seeing clients from the very earliest stages and supporting them through their rehabilitation journey"

Legal 500

"Andy Shaw is ambitious for the firm, but principally for his clients, bringing an unflappable nature, but with true empathy. He is as good as any personal injury lawyer in the country"

Legal 500

Starting the claim

It should be possible after meeting with you to have a good idea of who may be to blame for your workplace disease or illness, although in some cases more than one party may possibly be liable.

We will send a letter of claim to the employer or anyone else we consider is responsible for your accident.  If you do not know the insurer details, we may be able to find out who the insurer is from the ELTO database, which helps trace workplace insurers. 

The letter of claim sets out the basic circumstances of the incident, why we hold them responsible, brief details of your injuries and other losses such as lost income.  It is usual for the insurer to acknowledge your letter of claim within 21 days, and to confirm their decision on whether they accept responsibility for your catastrophic injury within the next 3 months. 

Evidence needed to make a claim

When we first see you, we will need to know details of your work, to understand how you have been exposed to a substance or certain work conditions that may have caused your workplace illness and disease.  We will also need to know what protective steps your employer had in place, if any.  As well as taking these details, we will also want to know if there are any photos or whether you have the details of any witnesses.  Other bodies may investigate your workplace disease for regulatory or criminal investigation purposes.  For example, there may be inquiries by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Local Authority, depending on which body oversees your workplace safety.  These reports can contain important evidence which may support your legal claim.

"They seem to go over and above for the client and are much easier to contact and deal with compared to most other legal firms. Steve Santy and Andy Shaw – both are extremely approachable and knowledgeable within their industry field"

Legal 500

"Andy Shaw and Steve Santy lead the team by example. It is obvious how client and rehabilitation focussed they are and that seems to permeate down through the team"

Legal 500

"Higgs is a well-known Black Country firm that frequently acts on severe and fatal personal injury cases. The firm is noted for its expert handling of head injury claims, burns and spinal cases, including those arising from RTAs, accidents at work and trips"

Chambers and Partners

Medical evidence to support a workplace disease or illness claim

In any workplace disease or illness claim, the burden of proof rests with the claimant.  This means that even if an employer accepts responsibility for the disease or illness, then the claimant must still prove the extent of the injuries caused by the disease or illness and their prognosis.  In addition, they must prove what other losses have reasonably been caused by the illness of disease, such as loss of earnings or care.

This means that expert evidence is key in supporting the claim.  We work with leading expert witnesses across a range of medical disciplines to establish the full impact of the illness or disease.  This includes not only assessing the current situation, but also looking ahead and considering the chances of, for example, a deterioration in symptoms, which may impact someone’s work capacity or care needs.  Another example may be someone with asbestosis who, as a result, may be at an increased risk of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma.  In such a case, we would advise the client that their interests would be best protected by settling their claim on a provisional basis.  This means that they could a agree a settlement on the assumption that the lung cancer or mesothelioma will not occur, but retaining the ability to claim further compensation for the full extent of their lung cancer or mesothelioma and associated losses if those diseases did develop in the expected time frame.

Interim payments

Interim payments are another way in which we are able to support people with a workplace illness or disease which can have a significant impact on someone’s ability to work.  Some people may never be able to return to their work or may have to take up different work.  It is also a fact that people with a disability are more likely to have time out of work and to have longer periods of unemployment compared to people without a disability.  It is therefore unsurprising that many people who contract a workplace illness or disease will have financial needs.  When an insurer is engaged, we are often able to secure significant, early interim payments for clients.  In some instances, an insurer does not cooperate, so we advise clients on their option of applying to the court for an order.

Negotiate a settlement

When we have all the evidence needed to support a work disease or illness injury claim, we will enter negotiations with the insurer.  This could be by an exchange of settlement offers however, on more significant injury cases this may be done in a face-to-face meeting with the employer’s lawyers.  In these cases, we will also involve a specialist injury barrister to assist in these meetings and, if a settlement is not agreed, the same barrister will help prepare and present your case at trial.

Why choose us as your workplace or industrial disease claims lawyers

Our highly specialised workplace and industrial disease claims team is made up of approachable, friendly lawyers who will guide you and your family through the process of pursuing a workplace or industrial disease claim.

Our specialist lawyers are vastly experienced in dealing with cases involving asthma, dermatitis, vibration white finger and asbestos-related illnesses.

Each member of our team shares a passion for putting clients and their families at the heart of everything we do. 

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Meet the workplace and industrial disease claim team