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When Personal Injury Compensation Is More Than Skin Deep

Gloved hands
17th December 2013
A recent news item reporting on a personal injury claims case in which a Birmingham worker who was refused replacement gloves by his employers despite developing severe dermatitis, seems to come straight out of work practices from the early part of the twentieth century.

Incredibly, the 49 year old Coventry press setter had been working on the press for several years, which involved the manual application of pins into a press bed known for leaking oil and thus, his hands were constantly covered in oil.

Although the company did supply one set of gloves, they refused to supply regular replacements on the grounds of cost. Consequently, the worker’s hands developed severe occupational dermatitis, a skin disorder caused by coming into contact with specific substances in the workplace and can readily reappear at any time when exposed to irritants.

Although the employers did not admit liability, injury compensation of £10.000 was settled out of court.

In cases of contact dermatitis caused by an irritant, a highly irritant substance is known as a corrosive, which is responsible for some 80 per cent of contact dermatitis. The remaining 20 per cent of cases are attributable to an allergic contact.

Past medical research has found that even after ten years since a condition first arose, up to a half of all affected workers will still experience skin problems. Another form of allergic contact dermatitis known as a Type IV or delayed hypersensitivity, causes the skin to become sensitised or develop an allergic reaction days, months or even years after initial contact.

There are a wide range of protective gloves available, which must meet the European Standard EN374-2 to show that the gloves are waterproof and will protect against common irritants, especially involving wet work, cutting oils, solvents and degreasing agents. Protection against substances/chemicals would require a glove that meets the European Standard EN374-3.

Glove manufacturers also produce charts to show how well their gloves perform against different substances, based upon the time a chemical takes to permeate completely through the glove material, the process by which a chemical can pass through a material without any visible openings and the length of time a glove can be used before replacement.