Two GMB members have received compensation after being negligently exposed to dangerous fumes in the workplace.

Joanne Moorby and Lorraine Sharpe, both from Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria, have received compensation after they suffered from flu-like symptoms while working for Marl International in Ulverston.

Joanne, 38, suffered from sinus headaches and felt ill for over a year before discovering fumes in soldering flux was causing her symptoms.

Her work colleague Lorraine suffered similar symptoms.

They worked as production operatives at Marl International were they used lead-free solder and tin lead solder as part of their jobs making electrical components for the firm.

Faulty extraction fan at work

A faulty extraction fan meant the women were exposed to high level of fumes from a chemical cleaning agent used to facilitate soldering. It was not until Joanne searched for an explanation for her symptoms on the internet that she realised the causes.

It was later proven by their doctors.

The women have been left sensitized to soldering flux and can no longer work in the industry.

Joanne, who received £12,500 in compensation, said she did not know her job could put her health at risk. She said: “We were never warned about the effects the soldering flux may have on our health. For over a year I suffered from what felt like a continuous cold. I thought I was unhealthy and lived off vitamin tablets and painkillers.

“When I found out that my job was the cause of my ill health I was angry that I had never been warned of the health implications. We should have been having medical check-ups to make sure the flux wasn’t affecting our health and the extractor fans should have been well maintained.”

Staff should be protected from health and safety risks

Lorraine received an undisclosed amount in compensation. She added: “When I started my job I was never told that the soldering flux could have this affect. I can no longer work in the industry and as a result my earnings have fallen significantly.”

Marl International accepted liability for the women’s exposure and settled out of court.

GMB Regional Secretary Tom Brennan said: “It is important employers ensure their staff are protected from all health and safety risks. These members were exposed to toxic fumes which, while not deadly, made them feel unwell and had a negative effect on their lives for several months.

“More should have been done by the employers to ensure their staff members were fit and healthy and not being affected by the chemicals they were working with.”

Anthony Duffy from Thompsons Solicitors’ Leeds office added: “These two women have been left sensitized to soldering flux and as a result cannot undertake any work in what is a specialist and well paying industry.

“They should never have been put in a position where they were forced to turn to the internet for an answer to their health problems. Their employers should have provided regular health check-ups and should have kept equipment well maintained to ensure a healthy work force.”

This news story was also published by North-West Evening Mail.