Dermatitis is a skin condition that is characterised by persistent redness, itching and inflammation. As the condition progresses and becomes more severe, blisters may start to develop and the skin may start to crack. When the symptoms develop due to contact with toxic substances in the workplace or any other work-related activity, it is known as occupational dermatitis.
Importantly, if you have developed occupational dermatitis due to a lack of adequate health and safety measures in place at work, you may be eligible to make an occupational dermatitis claim for compensation.
Please carry on reading to find out more about claiming compensation for occupational dermatitis or call our team on 0800 6524 881 to talk with a specialist today.
Table of contents
- What Is Occupational Dermatitis?
- Am I Eligible To Make An Occupational Dermatitis Compensation Claim?
- Which Occupations Are Most At Risk Of Occupational Dermatitis?
- Common Types Of Occupational Dermatitis
- What Types Of Negligence Can Lead To Occupational Dermatitis Claims?
- How Much Compensation For Occupational Dermatitis Could I Claim?
- What Evidence Could I Use To Support An Occupational Dermatitis Claim?
- What Is The Time Limit For Claiming Compensation?
- Starting The Occupational Dermatitis Claims Process
Occupational dermatitis, also known as occupational eczema, is a skin condition that can result from exposure to a range of substances in the workplace. It’s a type of contact dermatitis which causes the skin to become red, itchy, inflamed or blistered when it comes into contact with substances known to be irritants such as chemicals, detergents, solvents or allergens such as metals, latex and some plants.
The severity of the condition can vary depending on the intensity and duration of exposure to the offending substance. Other factors also come into play such as the individual’s own skin sensitivity and whether or not they have used personal protective equipment (PPE).
Identifying the offending causative substance is key in preventing or managing the condition in the future.
If you have developed occupational dermatitis after being exposed to irritants at work, it is possible that you may be eligible to make an occupational dermatitis compensation claim. Before proceeding with a claim, a personal injury solicitor will first need to verify three points, these include:
- That your employer owed you a duty of care; and
- They acted negligently, breaching that duty of care; and
- Their negligence resulted in you developing occupational dermatitis.
Once the solicitor has been able to prove each statement to be true, they may offer to start an occupational dermatitis claim on a No Win No fee basis.
Although anyone can be affected by occupational dermatitis, individuals whose work involves contact with certain soaps, chemicals, and cleaning materials are more prone to develop occupational dermatitis. Those employed in beauty salons, chemical manufacturing, cleaning companies, biological plants, hospitals and florist shops are at a high risk of developing symptoms of dermatitis. This is because these occupations often mean workers are regularly exposed to a wide range of allergenic and irritant chemicals such as dyes, lye, paints, and bleaches.
Working for extended periods of time with wet hands or with petroleum, latex, nickel, rubber, flour and cement can also cause dermatitis. Although not as common, dermatitis symptoms may also develop due to prolonged exposure to vibration, abrasion or radiation.
Regardless of the specific cause, you might have a legal right to claim occupational dermatitis compensation if your symptoms developed due to exposure to an allergen, irritant or any other hazardous substance in the workplace.
There are several different types of occupational dermatitis that compensation could be claimed for if negligence by an employer is the cause. They include:
- Irritant Contact Dermatitis – This is the most common type of occupational dermatitis. It’s generally caused by frequent exposure to irritants such as detergents, soaps, acids, and alkalis.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis – Caused by an allergic reaction to a specific substance, for example, latex or some sort of chemical that may be used in the workplace.
- Photodermatitis – Caused by exposure to UV light which usually happens whilst welding or working with UV lamps.
- Occupational Acne – Exposure to oil and/or grease within the workplace is usually the cause of occupational acne.
- Pompholyx (also known as dyshidrotic eczema) – Generally characterised by itchy, small blisters that appear on the hands and fingers and is often caused by exposure to chemicals or wet work.
- Systemic Contact Dermatitis – A systemic reaction may occur if a substance has been absorbed into the body, such as through ingestion or inhalation.
The type of occupational dermatitis you’ve suffered from can affect the compensation amount and the process of making a claim. Therefore, please contact our claims advisors to discuss the type of dermatitis you’ve suffered and whether you could claim compensation.
There are various different symptoms that are caused by occupational dermatitis, and they can vary in severity. Some of the main symptoms include:
- Redness of the skin. The affected area may appear inflamed, red or swollen.
- Itchiness. The skin may become intensely itchy which will often lead to scratching and further irritation.
- Rash. A rash may develop often taking the form of bumps, blisters or patches that are scaly.
- Dry or cracked skin. The skin may start to become dry and crack which can be very sore and painful.
- Burning or stinging. Sometimes the skin may feel as if it is burning or stinging.
- Crusting. In more severe cases, the skin may develop crusts or weeping blisters.
Thankfully, over the years various acts and regulations have been introduced with the intention of protecting the rights of employees. In accordance with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employees are owed a duty of care by their employers. This means employers must remove all potential hazards from the workplace or put appropriate health and safety measures in place to minimise these hazards.
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002, employers are required to either take steps to prevent or minimise workers’ exposure to hazardous substances such as chemical agents and other irritants.
Some of the ways in which an employer may be found negligent in preventing occupational dermatitis include:
- Failing to carry out regular risk assessments to identify potential risks.
- Not providing sufficient training on how to handle hazardous substances safely.
- Not providing adequate industrial standard PPE such as barrier creams, gloves, masks and overalls for example.
- Failing to make sure there is adequate ventilation.
- Not using non-toxic substances as an alternative when possible.
If an employer fails to comply with the relevant laws and regulations, therefore acting negligently, they will be in breach of their legal duty of care. If you develop occupational dermatitis due to your employer’s negligence, you may be eligible to make an occupation dermatitis claim for compensation.
The amount of compensation for occupational dermatitis you could claim will generally depend on the type of dermatitis you have and the severity of the condition. However, in general, personal injury claims are essentially made up of two types of damages, these are:
- General Damages. These cover the type and severity of your dermatitis, and the level of pain and suffering endured. Loss of amenity and mental health injuries may also be considered as well as the long-term prognosis.
- Special Damages. These represent any expenses and monetary losses such as medical and travel costs directly related to your dermatitis, care expenses, loss of earnings and potential future loss of income.
A personal injury solicitor from our team will be able to advise you of what you could claim compensation for if a claim is taken on and will ensure that everything that is relevant to your claim is covered by the compensation award.
Although it’s not possible, at this point, to say what compensation you might receive, there are compensation guidelines for dermatitis on the hands. These are currently as follows:
- £13,740 – £19,200 compensation for more severe cases of occupational dermatitis that is affecting both hands having a detrimental effect on employment and domestic capabilities and may continue indefinitely.
- £8,640 – £11,410 compensation where dermatitis has been affecting both hands for a long length of time but treatment may be working or protective gloves help with certain tasks.
- £1,710 to £3,950 compensation for dermatitis that has caused some irritation and discomfort on both hands but will get better with treatment over a few months.
As part of an occupational dermatitis claim your solicitor may need to arrange an independent medical examination. Usually, this will be arranged as close to the claimant’s location as possible and is simply part of the claims process.
For occupational dermatitis claims to be a success, you’ll typically need to provide solid evidence that supports your claim. There are a variety of types of evidence that could be used for an occupational dermatitis claim which include:
- Medical Reports. By seeing a medical professional as soon as possible, not only are you ensuring you get a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for dermatitis but also, your solicitor can use a copy of your medical report as evidence to support your case.
- Photos. To give a visual account of the severity of your dermatitis, and the pain and suffering you have experienced, photos of the condition are a great source of evidence.
- Photos/video footage of the cause. Taking photos or video footage of your work environment can help in showing the conditions you were working in and the types of substances you were exposed to.
- Employment history. A detailed employment history that shows your exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. This might include product information about the substances you have been exposed to, the duration of your exposure, and the protective measures that were in place by your employer.
- Receipts of expenses and losses. Keep all receipts for expenses due to your occupational dermatitis and a record of any other expenses and losses you may have incurred.
- Witness contact details. If you have work colleagues who have witnessed your exposure to harmful chemicals, they may be able to provide witness statements to support your claim.
A personal injury solicitor will be able to advise on the type of evidence needed and help you to acquire it. Seeking legal advice and help as early as possible will give a longer length of time in which to collect all the evidence required to put forward a strong case for compensation.
In the UK, there are time limits in which work accident claims must be initiated. For occupational dermatitis claims, the time limit would typically be 3 years starting from the date the condition was diagnosed.
Although 3 years may seem a long time, it really isn’t. Depending on the circumstances, some claims can take over a year to reach a conclusion. In our experience, the sooner the process is started, the longer you will have to build a strong case.
If you’d like to discuss how long you have left to start an occupational dermatitis claim, please contact us today.
To have a successful compensation claim, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice and representation as soon as you can.
Our claims advisors offer a free consultation where they can determine if you have a viable case and if they feel you have a good chance of success, a solicitor from our team may offer to pursue your claim on your behalf.
Due to our No Win No Fee policy, we do not ask for any payment upfront and so there are no out-of-pocket expenses when using our services.
If you have any questions on the process of making an occupational dermatitis claim please contact us on 0800 6524 881 or feel free to use our live chat feature to speak with an advisor right away.