Dermatitis compensation claims
Updated: October 8, 2018
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition characterised by redness, itching, blisters and cracking. The condition commonly occurs among hairdressers, cleaners and chemical workers, whose arms and hands are regularly exposed to dyes, bleaches and other irritant and allergenic chemicals.
If dermatitis is caused or brought on by work or a work-related activity, a work-related illness claim for compensation can usually be made.
Do I have a claim for dermatitis?
If you have suffered dermatitis in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.Back to top
Understanding dermatitis claims in the UK
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2013 there were 1297 new diagnoses of occupational skin diseases. 907 of those (75%) were contact dermatitis (EPIDERM).
Working with wet hands, and contact with soap and other cleaning materials, are the most common causes. Others include latex, rubber, petroleum, cements, flour and nickel. Dermatitis can also be biological (plant or bacteria), physical (vibration or radiation) or mechanical (abrasion).
It can be caused by prolonged exposure, excessive exposure, splashes, touches or contaminated surfaces. Alternatively, airborne substances can deposit on the skin.
Occupations with the highest rates are florists, hairdressers, cooks, beauticians, and certain manufacturing and health care related occupations (THOR-EPIDERM).
Hands are most at risk, but dermatitis can affect the face and other parts of the body. A difficult condition to live with, it can cause significant pain and discomfort. Some people become permanently sensitised to certain substances. Some have to give up work because of it.
The Quittance panel of solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with work-related skin diseases, such as dermatitis.Back to top
When is dermatitis cause for a claim?
If dermatitis is brought on by non-fault exposure to an irritant or allergen, then a claim can be made for compensation. For occupational related dermatitis cases, responsibility would lie with the employer.
All employers have a legal ?duty of care' to ensure employees are kept safe from harm. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers are required to carry out risk assessments of the work environment to identify possible hazards. Once identified, they must remove them or adopt adequate health and safety measures to protect workers.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) more specifically requires employers to identify hazards associated with substances in the workplace, such as chemical agents, assess the extent of exposure and minimise the risks. Whilst The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 describes what they must do to manage the health and safety issues.
This set of regulations is particularly relevant as the substances that cause dermatitis are essential in many industries. For example, health workers are required to frequently wash their hands with soap and wear gloves. Likewise, hairdressers are frequently in contact with soaps and other chemicals and construction workers will need to use cements, plaster and other masonry.
In these instances, the employer must ensure that employees are given training on the risks and offered suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gloves and clothing specifically matched to the substance. In addition skin creams and adequate washing facilities should be provided.
If a person's dermatitis is the result of an employer failing to carry out these legal duties, this would constitute employer negligence, making them liable.Back to top
Demonstrating dermatitis is work-related
The first obstacle in a dermatitis compensation claim is demonstrating that the condition is work related. Even where a dermatologist confirms dermatitis in the Claimant, establishing the cause can be difficult. For example, it could be argued that it was triggered by a substance outside of the work environment, or that the Claimant already had the condition.
Demonstrating when symptoms occurred and if they correlated with a new job or a change in work conditions, such as the introduction of a new chemical or substance, can be vital.
Any evidence that can be gathered will be important. This includes:
- Medical diagnosis and prognosis on the condition
- Company accident records if it was caused by a single incident
- Physical proof of the suspected causal agent, including insufficient PPE
- Documented evidence of the companies health and safety procedures
- Witness accounts from fellow colleagues
An employer could argue in their defence that adequate safety measures were in place, and that the employee caused the condition by not following the correct practices or wearing the specified safety gear. In this case, ?contributory negligence' might be sought which would reduce the sum received.Back to top
Calculate my dermatitis compensation
How much compensation is achievable depends on the individual facts of the case. Factors considered will include the severity of the dermatitis, the prognosis, whether the defendant is entirely to blame and how the condition has impacted on a person's life. Compensation will be higher for the most serious cases affecting both hands or other areas of the body.
Not only can compensation help cover the costs of medical treatment and any ongoing treatment, such as skin emollients or corticosteroids, but it can also help recover other losses. This includes travel to appointments, loss of earnings, as well as any psychological or social shortcomings that were a direct result of the condition.Back to top
Guaranteed No Win, No Fee - Pay nothing if you lose
A no win no fee agreement (technically called a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is put in place between the claimant and a qualified lawyer.
The Conditional Fee Agreement is basically the terms under which the solicitor is instructed by the claimant.
It sets out what the solicitor will do and how the solicitor is rewarded if your compensation claim is won.
If you instruct Quittance Personal Injury for your dermatitis claim there will be no extra costs in the terms and conditions , nothing to pay up-front and the peace of mind that you wont be financially out of pocket.Back to top
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About the author
Jonathan has over 30 years' experience in the personal injury sector and has been awarded the rank of Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
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