Unite Legal Services has helped a mechanical engineer to claim compensation after he developed a painful skin condition when he was exposed to chemicals at work.

The 59-year-old from Plymouth developed dermatitis after he was exposed to several different types of chemicals in his role as an engineer for Camtec Engineering Ltd.

His job involved working on different machines where the chemicals were used. He was not provided with suitable gloves and as a result his hands became covered in the liquids.

He first began to notice problems with his hands in June 2009 and was told by his GP that he was suffering from industrial dermatitis. He was provided with creams but his hands continued to be painful and cracked.

It was another six months before his employers took his condition seriously and provided him with protective gloves.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

The Unite member has since left the organisation and is unemployed. He said his condition is largely under control but is concerned it will limit his ability to find a job in the future.

Following his diagnosis he was supported by Unite Legal Services which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Camtec Engineering admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £13,500.

The Unite member said: “My hands have largely recovered but I have to be very careful when I put them into liquid, like when washing the dishes or the car. They can break out very easily and then it takes time to get the condition back under control. I’m out of work at the moment and I know that it will be difficult to get a job in engineering due to my condition. As a result I’m concentrating on getting a job driving so at least I can keep the dermatitis at bay.”

Occupational dermatitis is a common problem in the engineering and factory environment

Terry Keefe, regional co-ordinating officer from Unite the Union added: “Our member has been exposed to irritants that caused this painful condition through no fault of his own. Protective equipment, in this case gloves, avoid this type of condition from developing but the employer failed to even do that.

“This is a success from Unite Legal Services and all our members should take some comfort from knowing that our legal services are at hand to act for members and their families.”

Kevin Digby from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Occupational dermatitis is a common problem in the engineering and factory environment but the risk to employees can be greatly reduced by introducing the correct protective equipment.

“This member will be sensitive to irritants for the rest of his life and will have to be careful when working in environments where his hands are at risk of exposure.”