Allergic Reaction To Latex At Work - Case Studies

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This case study relates to a Thompsons client who had suffered a severe allergic reaction at work in May 2021.

The care home employee was referred to Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland by her union so that our specialist work accident lawyers could seek personal injury compensation on her behalf.

The background

On the date of the workplace incident, our client was employed as a senior care assistant at the Glennie House Care Home in Auchinleck, East Ayrshire. She had been employed there for approximately four years.

When she was first employed at the care home she had filled in a health questionnaire and had specified that she had a latex allergy.

A few days prior to the allergic reaction incident, a member of staff had brought a number of latex balloons into the care home. Our client knows to avoid any area that contains balloons and so was able to avoid direct contact with them.

On the date of the allergic reaction our client had arrived at work at 7.45am to start work at 8am. She changed into her work clothes and then made her way to the staff lounge to take part in the shift handover. As the handover meeting progressed our client was aware that her hands were itching. When she started her daily duties she noticed that her hands were beginning to swell.

She went back to the staff lounge to take Piriton, an antihistamine, which up until this day had been enough to halt a full-blown allergic reaction. She washed her hands and then attempted to continue working. However, she soon began to experience breathing difficulties, at which point the colleague who was working with our client noticed that her face was beginning to swell.

A senior care practitioner and the nurse-in-charge were called. The nurse administered an injection of adrenaline and the emergency services were called.

Paramedics attended, but our client has little memory of what occurred immediately after they arrived as she was slipping in and out of consciousness. She was taken to the A&E department at Ayr Hospital where she was diagnosed as having suffered an anaphylactic reaction. She was treated with intravenous steroids and antihistamines. Thankfully she was able to leave hospital later that evening.

The consequences

Following our client's severe allergic reaction to latex balloons, it was deduced that after the 20 to 30 balloons had been taken down from where they had been hung to celebrate a birthday, no cleaning had taken place to remove traces of latex.

It is likely that our client had touched surfaces containing traces of latex and surfaces that had been touched by people who had handled the balloons.

No risk assessments had been completed regarding the presence of latex in the care home and no formal instructions had been given to staff members in respect of how to handle balloons, the potential presence of latex or the cleaning procedures that should be carried out to remove latex.

However, a sign has since been put at the entrance to the unit warning that there are staff members on the premises with allergies to latex and peanuts.

Our client now carries an epi pen. She was warned that her allergic reactions may become more frequent and more severe and has indeed found this to be the case.

She was referred to the anaphylactic clinic at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was unable to return to work for three days following her allergic reaction at work.

The settlement

Thompsons' personal injury lawyers intimated a claim to our client's employer and they advised that they wished to settle the claim.

We instructed a medical report which confirmed that our client had suffered an adverse reaction to latex exposure and that this exposure had triggered urticaria and a heightened sensitivity to latex.

The defender's insurers put forward an initial personal injury compensation settlement offer of £5,075. This was rejected.

A further offer of £6,000 was received and after discussions with our client regarding the merit of this settlement sum, she informed us that she would be happy to accept.

The workplace accident settlement was agreed on 2 August 2022.

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