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Our client, Miss Reid was referred to Thompsons' personal injury solicitors by her union, Unison following exposure to a hazardous substance as a part of her work.

The background

From 2005 to 2017, Miss Reid had been employed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as a newborn hearing screener at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.

From 2017 she worked in the Neonatal Unit of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as a healthcare support worker. In this role, she was required to perform extensive cleaning tasks and was exposed to the chemical disinfectant Actichlor.

After just a few weeks using the chemical, Miss Reid noticed that her existing asthma symptoms, present from childhood, were worsening. She was also developing skin conditions.

Miss Reid was advised by the Sister and her line manager to wear a mask while using the cleaning products – this was not common practise on the ward.

The consequences

Miss Reid was forced to take sick leave from work as a result of the symptoms she was suffering following exposure to a number of different forms of Actichlor.

She applied for another job, a promotion, within the NHS in order to remove herself from the environment and was successful at interview. However, the job offer was withdrawn due to the high number of sick-leave absences on her employment record.

Miss Reid was forced to take more than six months off work as the working conditions, and her health, deteriorated. Miss Reid believes around four other employees had suffered chemical reactions to Actichlor products.

Eventually, our client was forced to redeploy to a lower-paid role that does not involve contact with cleaning products. She fears she will be unable to undertake a clinical role again.

The settlement

Initially, liability was denied by the defender, so Thompsons' industrial disease solicitors raised court proceedings.

We recovered Miss Reid's medical records and obtained medical opinion from a Consultant Respiratory Physician as well as a Consultant Dermatologist. Both confirmed that Miss Reid's injuries were related to her work activity. They agreed that ongoing symptoms would be halted if exposure was ceased.

Following litigation, a further expert report was obtained from a Chartered Occupational Hygienist confirming that the defenders had been in breach of their duties to their employee, Miss Reid; in particular, in allowing Actichlor to be made up with hot water which resulted in a release of chlorine gas within a small unventilated area.

An initial offer of settlement was made by the defender of £3,500. However, this was rejected on the basis that it was too low given the loss of employment opportunity Miss Reid had experienced.

At a pre-trial meeting, the defenders Counsel made an increased compensation offer of £7,000 which was also rejected. We obtained Miss Reid's instructions to settle for £10,000 and are pleased to confirm that following further negotiations, this was agreed.

Settlement was confirmed on 13 July 2021

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