Rolls Royce has agreed to pay £5,500 compensation to an employee who developed painful dermatitis after he was exposed to a corrosive coolant at work.

Mr Pattison, 42, was exposed to the coolant while working as a Turner on Rolls Royce aircraft turbines at the company’s plant.

In February 2007 he was assigned to cover for workmates on a drilling machine. The job involved picking sharp metal off-cuts out of coolant that had built up in the base of the drill.

Mr Pattison was provided with gloves with a plastic lining to protect his hands, however the protective gloves were unsuited to the job and were easily punctured by the metal off-cuts, bringing his hands into contact with the corrosive coolant.

First symptoms of the irritant dermatitis

Within a few days working on the machine Mr Pattison noticed his hands had become red and his skin was starting to crack and flake off. These were the first symptoms of the irritant dermatitis that would cause him six months of pain, including 13 weeks off work.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t even turn a tap on,” he says, “I had to use my wrists. My hands were so painful red and raw it was just unbearable, they’ve never really been the same since.”

Mr Pattison sought assistance from his union Unite, which instructed personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that Rolls Royce was liable for Mr Pattison’s dermatitis because it had exposed him to industrial coolant without providing adequate protection. Rolls Royce agreed to settle the case after court proceedings had been issued.

This accident could have easily been prevented

Sean Cook from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Irritant dermatitis is a very painful condition that has caused Mr Pattison significant disruption to his work and lifestyle. I’m pleased we’ve been able to help secure him compensation for what happened.”

Unite regional secretary, Davey Hall said: “This accident could have easily been prevented. If Rolls Royce had provided more suitable gloves or invested in safer, more efficient methods such as a vacuum extraction procedure then none of this would ever have happened.”

Mr Pattison said: “You put on the protective gear that’s been provided and if it’s not up to scratch it’s only fair that the company is liable, but you’d think a big outfit like Rolls Royce would have had the sense to put money into preventing the accident in the first place.”

Mr Pattison continues to work at Rolls Royce.