We have recently succeeded in a dermatitis claim for a young client against his employer.
Our client worked for a brewery, employed as a machine operator. He worked on different machines but the main ones were the filler and the labeller. All the machines were in the same room within the factory. We were instructed that there was a line that brought the bottles round which had water mixed with lubricant in it. As the bottles came round the process machines, they would smash together causing some beer to splash on the floor.
Our client won £4,000 in compensation – click the Claimometer button to start your claim today…
As a result of the liquid splashing, our client describes the floor being extremely wet. In many instances the water was up to the sole of his shoe. It was deeper in some places. We were instructed that there were previously drip trays which collected the liquid but these were removed from under the line several years previously.
By way of protective footwear our client was provided with wellington boots but, on occasions, non-waterproof boots. He believes that neither provided satisfactory protection. The wellington boots were susceptible to damage from broken glass on the floor of the factory from broken bottles. In addition they were not cushioned and proved to be very unsuitable for standing for an entire shift. The non-waterproof boots were unsuitable for obvious reasons.
We directed details of the claim to the brewery, alleging that due to the presence of significant liquid on the floor of the factory and further liquid dripping from the line onto the top of our client’s footwear, he developed a form of dermatitis affecting both of his feet. We alleged that the employer was at fault for allowing excess liquid to be present on the floor and failing to provide our client with suitable footwear.
In further support of our client’s work injury claim we instructed a consultant dermatologist to prepare a report dealing with the cause of our client’s skin condition. The medical report detailed that our client had begun to suffer with gradual symptoms of tingling and itching to his feet which worsened over a period of about two months. Our client also reported to the medical expert that he found that things improved slightly over the weekend when he was not working and his feet were not being exposed to the wet conditions. He told the medical expert of a time when the lubricant from the line had come into contact with his hands. Approximately half an hour later his skin was irritated and dry. The medical expert considered our client’s past medical history to see whether there was any other potential cause of his problems. He confirmed that none of the problems our client had suffered from in the past made him more susceptible to suffering with such a skin condition. On the basis that our client had stopped working for the brewery, and within about two or three weeks of that his symptoms had improved, the medical expert confirmed that our client was suffering with dermatitis of the feet caused by his working conditions.
In his report the expert explained that the causation of dermatitis is very complex. He explained that dermatitis can be caused by constitutional factors affecting an individual, exposure to irritant substances or can be secondary to infection. Moreover he confirmed that sometimes dermatitis is caused by a combination of factors.
Due to the fact that our client’s symptoms dramatically improved within such a short time of him finishing work for the brewery, the medical expert was able to conclude that there was a close association between the exposure to liquid and the development of dermatitis. He said that there had clearly been a major failure in the provision of safe working conditions and the provision of adequate personal protective equipment in the form of suitable footwear. He said that without this exposure, the dermatitis would never have occurred.
The medical report was disclosed to the defendant insurers but they denied liability on the basis that the employer stated they had provided suitable working conditions and suitable footwear. In the absence of a settlement, we made an offer to the defendant insurers which was not accepted. We, therefore, issued court proceedings against them. A Defence was filed denying liability but an offer of compensation was subsequently made. This offer was actually higher than the offer we had originally made and our client was more than happy to accept it. His claim settled for the total amount of £4,000 as a result of the dermatitis symptoms he suffered from over a period of approximately ten months.
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