A woman cleaner who developed a severe skin condition as a result of exposure to an abrasive solvent cleaner has received compensation from her former employer.
Susan Davies began to notice that the skin on her hands was really dry shortly after she started working for L&T Cleaning Services Limited in 2010. Her job was to clean new build properties in Stoke-on-Trent. This involved daily application of a powerful cleaning agent to PVC surfaces.
Her condition gradually worsened until the skin on her hands was cracked and bleeding. She informed her employer of the damage that daily use of the cleaning product was causing to her hands, but the company failed to provide her with gloves or any protective equipment.
Mrs Davies was diagnosed by her GP with contact dermatitis. The condition can develop through exposure to chemicals that damage the surface of the skin faster than the skin is able to repair itself. The chemical substance removes oils and moisture from the skin's outer layer, allowing irritants to penetrate more deeply and cause further damage by triggering inflammation. Treatment is usually with steroid cream, but the condition tends to flare up repeatedly after the initial harmful exposure.
Mrs Davies' condition became so bad that she had to take time off work. She subsequently decided to pursue a personal injury claim after her boss suggested she would 'just have to learn to live with it'. She was awarded an undisclosed sum in compensation after L&T Cleaning Services admitted liability for her injuries.
Mrs Davies now works as a carer, but still has regular appointments with a specialist to ensure her contact dermatitis is kept under control. She often has to wear gloves to prevent it flaring up as the skin on her hands remains sensitive and can become irritated when she comes into contact with a variety of different substances or material such as leather.