Claiming Compensation for Occupational Dermatitis


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By Crispin Bateman

on Monday 15 October 2018


Dermatitis Patient

Dermatitis and other skin conditions

Skin conditions, known as dermatitis, are an unfortunate yet natural part of life. It mainly occurs when allergens irritate the skin and a reaction occurs – typically involving itching or flaking.

When an allergic reaction of the skin occurs due to an exposure to chemicals or other irritants at work, however, there is cause for a compensation claim. In those situations, your workplace has a duty of care to ensure that certain procedures are followed to provide a safe working environment and if that hasn’t been done then the liability for your condition lies with them.

What is occupational dermatitis?

Work-related dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that has been caused by the working environment or by contact with a hazardous substance while at work.

Allergic reactions differ from person to person, but the common signs of occupational dermatitis include:

  • Itching

  • Redness of skin

  • Blotchiness

  • Cracking skin

  • Blisters

Occupational dermatitis can affect many areas of your body, though those exposed to the environment are usually the first to become irritated - uncovered hands and face are particularly susceptible.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a common term for contact dermatitis and is not a separate condition – any references to eczema compensation claims come under the same heading as occupational dermatitis.

Who is responsible for my occupational dermatitis?

Your employer is responsible for your health and safety at work. They have a duty of care to provide you with a safe environment in which to carry out your job, and a failure to uphold that duty of care makes them liable for the situation and open to becoming the defendant in a compensation claim.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is in charge of monitoring the working environment and ensuring that employees are protected. The COSHH regulations (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) are of particular interest when making occupational dermatitis claims, as most work-related dermatitis claims are to do with contact or other exposure to a hazardous substance.

What are the COSHH regulations?

Designed to help make work environments safe when working with hazardous materials, the COSHH regulations detail a process to be followed to provide adequate control over any dangerous substances. When using a hazardous item, a business must:

  • Make a full assessment of any dangers presented

  • Research any possible alternatives to use

  • Ensure a clean and well-ventilated work environment, with adequate storage facilities and protective clothing where necessary

  • Regularly monitor all equipment and check employee training and understanding

  • Train staff in the proper use of all equipment, safety measures and all associated information

  • Continuously review and revise any procedures to keep up to date with any new developments

If you believe your employer did not follow these processes and that your dermatitis is due to their lack of correct health and safety, then you should strongly consider work-related dermatitis compensation.

The HSE estimates that over 84,000 people in the UK currently suffer from dermatitis that has been caused or exacerbated by their work. If you are one of these 84,000, then call us today!

Can I work with dermatitis?

Depending on the severity of your eczema, you may find it difficult to work but if you control the condition then you should be perfectly capable of doing your job. Some helpful tips for taking care of your skin condition include:

  • clean your skin carefully using soap or a moisturising emollient

  • if possible, wear something to protect your skin (like gloves) and stop them becoming further exposed

  • if you are reacting to a certain brand of soap or cleaning product, don’t waste time in changing it – look for something which is an emollient

  • Prepare with cream before beginning work, and use another appropriate cream once you have left the work environment

A huge number of industrial dermatitis claims are in the food and catering industries. Handing food or cleaning products and washing your hands many times a day can exacerbate dermatitis. When asking ‘can you work with food with dermatitis’, the answer is ‘yes’, but a better question is ‘do you want to?’

While there is no legal defence of a prejudice regarding employing someone with eczema in a busy kitchen, if you suffer from a contact skin condition it may be beneficial to look to change occupation or move sideways into another area of the industry.

After making a work-related dermatitis claim, you may find yourself in a stronger financial position to either take time off work to help clear up eczema or choose an occupation less likely to result in a skin disease claim.

Will making a claim affect my employer or colleagues?

Many people avoid making a claim for compensation because they believe that the end outcome will result in the loss of jobs for colleagues and the potential closure of the business that they worked (or still work) for. This is not the case. Business indemnity insurance will be in place to protect the individuals and the company from the fall out from any legal claims for accidents or wrongdoing.

Often, the worst that will happen to any business you claim from will be a bump in their annual insurance premiums!

If you have a legitimate claim, then you are entitled to the financial compensation it awards.

How much money are work related dermatitis claims worth?

When determining the final award value for a compensation claim for occupational skin conditions, the court follows a set of guidelines to ensure fairness. If your claim is settled out of court (and many are), then the solicitors involved will also follow these guidelines.

Severity Compensation
(c) Itching, irritation of and/or rashes on one/both hands, resolving within a few months treatment. A short-lived aggravation of a pre-existing skin condition will also fall within this bracket.£1,360 to £3,150
(b) Dermatitis of one or both hands, continuing for a significant period, but settling to with treatment and/or use of gloves for specific tasks.£6,890 to £9,100
(a) Dermatitis of both hands, with cracking and soreness, affecting employment and domestic capability, possibly psychological consequences, lasting for some years, perhaps indefinitely.£10,960 to £15,300

When calculating the payout amount, everything is taken into account – from the level of pain and suffering, through to loss of earnings and emotional distress. If you have additional expenses such as travel costs or care costs, then be sure to detail these as part of your compensation requirements.

What do I do to make a claim for work-related dermatitis?

Call Accident Line Direct today. It won’t cost you anything and our specialist advisors will be able to assess your claim and let you know if a compensation pay out is likely.

We believe that it is every person’s right to have professional legal representation when making a case for work-related compensation. To achieve this, we work on a No Win No Fee basis, which means that if the claim does not have a successful result, you will not be charged a penny. There are no hidden fees or any confusing small print – we make our money by taking a small percentage from the final awarded amount, thus when you win, so do we. Our solicitors work to their best in order to get the maximum possible financial award for both you and us.

If you have suffered eczema or other related dermatitis due to your job and would like to make a claim, then we are here to speak to you! Give us a call today or fill in our contact form to have someone call you back at a time that suits you and please share our article on social media – many people suffer in silence from a skin condition when they deserve compensation. By sharing this article, you may well help them improve their life.

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