Dermatitis is a painful skin condition that can turn very nasty with blisters forming and skin cracking which could leave you open to infection. If your working environment involves handling any sort of toxic substance or material, you are put more at risk of developing what is referred to as “occupational dermatitis”.
If you have developed occupational dermatitis and you can prove that your employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe from injury and harm while you are in their employment, you may be entitled to seek compensation from them for all the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses you had to cope with through no fault of your own. To find out more on how to file an occupational dermatitis claim against an employer, please read on.
What Are the Common Symptoms Associated With Occupational Dermatitis?
Symptoms associated with occupational dermatitis are exactly the same as the symptoms of dermatitis. The only difference being in the way that this skin condition is contracted with occupational dermatitis being a painful condition that is contracted as a result of the environment you work in and the substances you may have to handle during the course of your daily duties.
Occupational dermatitis symptoms you may experience could include the following:
- Redness of the skin
- Blotchiness of the skin
- Itchy skin
- Cracking of your skin
It is worth noting that the occupational dermatitis symptoms you may experience would depend on the severity of your condition and which substances you may have come into contact with. This includes whether it was just a one time occurrence or whether your condition developed over a longer period of time in the workplace.
What Employees Are More At Risk of Developing Occupational Dermatitis?
If you work with any of the following substances/materials, you would be more at risk of developing occupational dermatitis:
- Cleaning substances and materials
It is worth noting that should you work with any of the following substances/materials over a long period of time, you may also be put more at risk of developing occupational dermatitis:
Although much rarer, instances of workers developing the condition have been reported when they are subjected to prolonged exposure to the following:
The industries where workers are most at risk of suffering from occupational dermatitis include the following:
- Beauty salons
- Chemical manufacturing
- Cleaning companies
- Biological plants
The reason employees/workers in these sectors are more at risk of developing occupational dermatitis, is that they are more frequently exposed to allergenic chemicals and irritants which includes bleaches, paints, dyes and lye to name but four substances that could trigger the condition.
What is the Law When it Comes to Occupational Dermatitis?
Over the years, the UK has introduced laws and regulations which were set in place to protect workers and their rights which includes when working in higher risk industries. These laws are detailed below:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – all employers must abide by the legislation which states that all employees must be kept safe from injury and harm in the workplace and that employers must set in place “all reasonable measures” to ensure that accidents in the workplace are kept to a minimum
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 – all employers must set in place measures to prevent or to minimise the risk of employees being exposed to dangerous and hazardous substances which includes irritants and chemical agents
Employers are duty bound by law to comply with all the regulations and legislation that is set in place to protect you from harm while you are in their employment and they must do so by carrying out the following:
- Frequent and thorough risk assessments of the working environment with an end goal being to identify hazards that could lead to employees developing dermatitis
- To provide all employees and other workers with sufficient training when it comes to dealing with and handling potential hazardous substances and materials which includes irritants
- To provide all employees and other workers with adequate personal protective equipment to ensure the risk of being exposed to hazardous substances and materials is reduced
- To explore the possibility of using alternative materials and substances that are not toxic wherever possible
Should your employer fail in any of the above and you develop occupational dermatitis at work, you could be entitled to seek compensation for the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses you incur because it could be deemed that your employer was negligent when it came to making sure you were kept safe from harm and injury while you were in their employment.
How Do I Prove My Occupational Dermatitis Claim Against My Employer?
To file for occupational dermatitis compensation from your employer, you would need to provide evidence that your condition is the result of the work you do or that you came into contact with a toxic substance/material during the course of your work. As such, you would need to provide the following:
- A detailed report from an independent dermatologist outlining your condition
Your employer may dispute the claim that you came into contact with an irritant or other hazardous substance in the workplace and that you were suffering from dermatitis prior to working for them. An employer could also argue that you were exposed to some kind of “trigger” outside of the working environment. As such, it is extremely important to provide enough proof that you developed the condition in the workplace for your occupational dermatitis claim to be upheld.
What Level of Compensation Could I Receive in an Occupational Dermatitis Claim?
The amount of compensation you may receive in a successful occupational dermatitis claim would be determined on the severity of your condition and how it has impacted your overall health and well-being. Personal injury compensation is calculated case by case which in short, means that the level of compensation one person receives may differ from the amount someone else is awarded. As such, the occupational dermatitis compensation amounts indicated below are provided as a guideline only:
- Severe occupational dermatitis on both hands, the level of compensation you may be awarded could be between £10,960 and £15,300
- Occupational dermatitis on both hands where treatment is successful to a certain extent, you may receive between £6,890 and £9,100
- Dermatitis that causes irritation and discomfort to both hands where treatment could see an improvement over several months, you may be awarded between £1,360 and £3,150
What Benefits are There to Working with Solicitor on an Occupational Dermatitis Claim?
This type of personal injury claim can be complicated because proving that you developed occupational dermatitis at work is often quite challenging. As such, having the experience of a lawyer who has vast experience in handling dermatitis claims on behalf of employees, offers many benefits and advantages, some of which are detailed below:
- A solicitor would assess your claim by examining your working environment
- The firm of lawyers would determine if your employer adhered to their legal responsibility which is to keep you safe from harm and injury while you are in their employment
- The solicitor would arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical professional who specialises in dermatitis. The consultant would provide an essential detailed medical report of your condition which would then be used to base the amount of occupational dermatitis compensation you are awarded
- Once the firm of lawyers determines that you have a strong case against your employer and that your case stands a very good chance of being successful, they would offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis, taking all the worry of finding the money to pay for a solicitor off the table. There would be no retainer/upfront fee to pay or ongoing fees as your occupational dermatitis claim progresses
- The solicitor would respect all pre-action protocols when communicating with your employer and their liability insurance provider
- A No Win No Fee solicitor would work hard to ensure you receive the level of occupational dermatitis you deserve for the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses you had to cope with
Solicitors who work with you on a No Win No Fee basis would also be able to arrange for you to receive specialist treatment should your condition be so severe that you require ongoing therapy.
What Can I Include in an Occupational Dermatitis Claim?
The way compensation is calculated for personal injury claims is detailed below:
- General damages which are awarded for all the suffering and pain you had to go through as a result of developing occupational dermatitis at work
- Special damages which are awarded and calculated on the “actual” expenses and other financial outlays you had to deal with as a direct result of your condition. This includes all your medical and travel expenses whether you go to a hospital or another medical facility by car, taxi, train, bus or by other means. As such, it is extremely important that you keep all relevant receipts which would be needed as proof of the expenses you incurred
Should I Sue My Employer if I Develop Occupational Dermatitis?
All employees are entitled to seek compensation for any injuries or health issues/conditions they develop in the workplace providing they can meet specific criteria. This is that it can be proved that a medical condition such as occupational dermatitis was the result of the environment worked in and/or that an employer was negligent in their duty to keep workers/employees safe. Other criteria includes the statutory time limit that is associated with all personal injury claims.
It is worth noting that employers in the United Kingdom must by law hold liability insurance which provides the required legal cover of £5 million. The policy must be issued by a recognised insurance provider and failure to have it, could mean your employer would be liable for hefty fines which are issued by the enforcing authority.
As such, when you seek occupational dermatitis compensation, it is your employer’s insurance provider who would handle your claim and they would be the ones who negotiate the compensation you may receive if your case is successful. The majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court, providing an employer does not dispute an occupational dermatitis claim. If your claim is disputed, the lawyer who represents you would investigate your employer’s claim before issuing court proceedings against them should they deem this to be necessary.
What are My Workers Rights If I Develop Occupational Dermatitis?
Your worker’s rights are protected and this includes when you develop a condition like occupational dermatitis at work. You have the right to do the following:
- Seek compensation from your employer
- To know that your job is safe even if you choose to file a personal injury claim against your employer
If an employer chooses to make your working life difficult or threaten you for seeking compensation, they would be acting illegally and as such, you should seek advice from a lawyer who specialises in employment law before doing anything else which includes resigning from your post.
What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities in the Workplace?
Your employer has a duty of care towards you and all your work colleagues in the workplace. This is to keep you safe from injury and harm by setting in place all “reasonable” measures to prevent accidents and exposure to hazardous substances and other materials. If an employer does not abide by the Health and Safety Executive legislation or the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 and you develop occupational dermatitis at work, you have the right to sue them for the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses.
Is There a Time Limit to Filing an Occupational Dermatitis Claim Against My Employer?
The statutory time limit to filing an occupational dermatitis claim against a negligent employer is as follows:
- 3 years from the date you were exposed to a hazardous material or substance
- 3 years from the time you were diagnosed as suffering from occupational dermatitis
- 3 years from the date of your 18th birthday if you developed the condition prior to having reached 18 years of age
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing an Occupational Dermatitis Claim?
You cannot lose your job because you seek compensation from your employer by filing an occupational dermatitis claim against them. It is illegal for an employer to show you the door because you do, unless they have another “good” reason for sacking you. If your employer threatens you with redundancy because you seek compensation, the best thing to do is to contact a solicitor who would provide essential legal advice on whether you could take further legal action out against your employer.
Would a Solicitor Work on a No Win No Fee Basis on My Claim?
As previously mentioned, once a firm of solicitors determines that you have a strong occupational dermatitis claim against a negligent employer and that your case stands a good chance of being successful whether it is heard in court or settled by your employer’s insurance provider through negotiation, they would enter into a No Win No Fee agreement with you.
In short, once a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) is signed, the solicitor would begin investigating your claim and would communicate with your employer and their liability insurance provider on your behalf without requesting a retainer or ongoing fees. The contract is legally binding and sets out the Terms and Conditions of the agreement and the “success fee” that would only be payable when you are awarded occupational dermatitis compensation.
The agreed percentage that you would have to pay the solicitor is taken out of the money you are awarded in a successful claim when you work with a No Win No Fee solicitor. If your case fails and you are not awarded any compensation either by a court or your employer’s insurance provider, there would be nothing to pay the solicitor who represented you in your occupational dermatitis claim against your employer.