A Unite the Union member has secured £10,000 in compensation for the occupational dermatitis he contracted from working in an aircraft parts fabrication factory.

Skin was painful, itchy and flaky

The longstanding Unite member worked as a trainee setter for a company producing aerospace fixing and was exposed to contaminants in the coolant oil. The exposure left him with dermatitis, a skin disease that causes intense and painful itching. It made the skin on his hands, wrists and forearms itchy and flaky and the condition continues to flare up in reaction to certain chemicals - even washing the dishes at home can lead to a serious reaction.

His doctor prescribed steroid cream and emollients, which the member still sometimes has to use to treat flare ups.

Employer had failed to provide protective gloves

For a long time, the 66-year-old’s employers wouldn’t provide him with the correct gloves. It was left up to him to bring his own gloves into work in order to protect his hands and arms. The condition became so bad that the member contacted Unite Legal Services who, with support from Thompsons Solicitors, investigated a claim for compensation on his behalf.

The factory worker said: “The itching was getting really intense and my employers just weren’t taking enough steps to stop us being exposed to hazardous chemicals. I spent years working for the company, and they wouldn’t even take basic steps to protect me from developing a serious skin disease.”

Employer neglected a basic duty

John Walsh, Regional Officer based in Unite’s Birmingham Office said: “If this company had simply provided adequate gloves the risk to our member and his colleagues would have been eliminated. Supplying good protective equipment is a basic employer duty and it is staggering that the company was so irresponsible.”