Caretaker exposed to noxious fumes receives compensation27 July 2011
Accident at work
A caretaker who was exposed to noxious fumes by his employers, causing him to pass out and injure his ribs has received damages after help from his trade union.
Desmond Groom, 44, from Cannock in Walsall broke his ribs when he passed out and struck his side on a sink after starting to use a new cleaning product supplied by his employers Burrowes Street Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) Ltd.
Mr Groom was using a fungicidal wash produced by Beeline to clean mould off walls, ceilings and bathrooms at one of the firm’s premises in Burrowes Street, Walsall.
Mr Groom arrived to a note telling him to use the substance which had been decanted into another bottle. There were no instructions on how to use it properly and he’d never been trained in using it.
He passed out and fell as he was climbing down a step ladder. As well as the fractures to his ribs he suffered from pain in his eyes, nose and mouth.
Mr Groom had worked for the TMO for three years before the accident but ended up with three months off work. It took him six months to recover fully.
Thompsons Solicitors pursued a claim for compensation
Afterwards he contacted his trade union Unite for advice. Unite instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.
Thompsons argued that Burrowes Street Tenant Management Organisation should have risk assessed the use of the product and provided protective equipment to prevent exposure to the fumes.
The TMO admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £3,000.
Mr Groom, who now works as a gardener, said: “I was left a note telling me to clean the mould with this product and because it had been decanted I had no idea what I was using or how strong it was. I was using step ladders and I’m just glad I had got down from them before I fell otherwise my injuries could have been much more severe.”
Peter Clews servicing officer at Unite added: “Exposure to noxious fumes or hazardous materials at work is a breach of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. Our members are being injured because employers don’t think or don’t care. As a union we wont accept that.
Karl De-Lloyde from Thompsons Solicitors in Wolverhampton said: ”Simple common sense dictates that you check the risks associated with using a highly noxious cleaning product not just decant it and leave instructions for it to be used, particularly in a confined space. Clear labelling and proper training can avoid accidents like this one.”
Diagnosed with an industrial disease? Receive legal advice and more with Thompsons.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a work-related disease or illness in the last three years, our industrial disease compensation specialists are on hand to support you.
Whether your working conditions are the cause of the illness, or are a contributing factor, our industrial disease experts can help you to build a case for compensation that takes into account your present and future needs.
In addition to getting the best possible legal advice, we’ll also make sure you are put in contact with medical and rehabilitation experts who can aid your recovery.
If you’d like more detailed information about how to start a claim, visit our How to Make a Compensation Claim page.