A residential social worker who was sprayed in the face with oven cleaner has won compensation from Newport City Council. Miss Rudi Meszaros, 33, of Horden in Peterlee, suffered long term chemical damage to her eyes after being attacked by a young person in her care. She brought the claim with the assistance of Thompsons Solicitors in Middlesbrough.

At the time of the incident, Miss Meszaros was working at the Cambridge House residential home for young offenders in Newport, South Wales. The home housed several people with criminal backgrounds including a young man with behavioural problems and a long history of violence and abuse. During a particularly violent attack, Miss Meszaros was sprayed in the face by the male youth with ‘Mr Muscle’ oven cleaner, leaving her temporarily blinded and in a lot of pain.

Despite a previous and similar incident, oven cleaner and other potentially damaging chemicals were not locked away, out of reach of the residents. ‘Mr Muscle’ contains chemicals which can be extremely harmful if used inappropriately.

Cleaning Products were not stored away safely

Recalling her ordeal, Miss Meszaros said: “Although members of staff, including myself, expressed concern about the easy access to cleaning products, no safe system for storing them was put in place. Several risk assessments, prior to the incident, also showed that the young man who attacked me should not have been kept in this home as he was a danger both to staff and other residents.”

Following the attack, Miss Meszaros suffered with anxiety and eventually left her position at Cambridge House to pursue her career elsewhere. She was able to secure alternative employment on similar terms in the North East of England, working with young people with learning disabilities in a safer environment.

Medical evidence showed that Miss Meszaros was vulnerable to developing a “magnified psychological response” if she worked with people with similarly aggressive behaviour.

Representing Miss Meszaros, Diane Davison of Thompsons Solicitors in Middlesbrough, said: “This incident was very distressing for Miss Meszaros who suffered psychological injuries and very serious injuries to her eyes. The case was particularly unacceptable because of a previous similar incident. The council had full knowledge of the risk of an occurrence yet failed to take simple steps to protect their staff from serious injury.”

This news story was also published by icWales.co.uk and the BBC.