A GMB member who developed a painful skin condition after being exposed to known irritants in the workplace has received compensation.

The 52-year-old from Stafford, developed dermatitis after he was exposed to brake fluid and a rust inhibitor while working for JC Bamford Excavators (JCB) in Rocester.

The production line operative had worked for the digger manufacturer since 2003 in a number of different roles. His skin problems first began in 2010 when he was moved onto a job where he was bleeding brakes and connecting radiator hoses.

Soon after moving onto the new job he began to suffer from red itchy spots on his hands and arms which developed into a painful rash.

He highlighted his problem to his bosses but although he was moved onto connecting radiator hoses full time his condition got worse.

The company nurse investigated the cause of his skin complaint and found that the fluid coming out of the radiators wasn’t dirty water but a rust inhibitor.

The fluid was an irritant and the workforce should have been provided with protective gloves to avoid skin complaints.

The GMB member was eventually moved onto a dry job where he was not exposed to fluids and his skin condition cleared up. But he has been left more susceptible to skin flare ups.

Thompsons Solicitors made a claim for compensation

Following his diagnosis he contacted the GMB for advice, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that JCB should have been aware of the chemicals it was exposing its workforce to and taken appropriate action to make the job safe.

JCB settled the claim out of court

The GMB member said: “When my hands began to flare up it was extremely painful.  It was thought it was caused by brake fluid so I was put on radiators full time. Being on radiators only made the problem worse because, as was eventually found out, it was the fluid in the radiators which we all thought was dirty water that was the irritant.

“Fortunately, since I’ve been moved off the job, my hands have more or less cleared up but I have to be cautious about what I expose them to otherwise they flare up very easily.”

Mark Bergman from the GMB added: “JCB should have worked out if there were chemicals in the radiators particularly as they themselves made the machines. A risk assessment and a system to put in place appropriate personal protective equipment would have avoided this member’s discomfort and long term skin condition”

Donna Simcock from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Occupational dermatitis is always a risk in a factory environment but the risk can be reduced if employers minimise exposure in the first place.

“This member will be sensitive to irritants for the rest of his life and will have to be extremely careful when working anywhere that his hands are at risk of further exposure.