Latex allergy payout could lead to rash of compensation claims

The
groundbreaking legal decision by a court to award an former nurse £240,000
compensation after she developed a life-threatening allergy to latex while
working at two hospitals in Swansea could have a major impact on employers,
according to Unison.

Cardiff
County Court today awarded Alison Dugmore a guaranteed £240,000 compensation,
with the possibility of further interest, after she was forced to give up
nursing in December 1997.

The
court awarded in Dugmore’s favour after hearing that she suffered a series of
anaphylactic attacks as a result of using latex gloves coated with corn powder.

She
developed skin irritation and breathing problems from the exposure and still
has to carry a treatment with her in case she unwittingly comes into contact
with latex.

Dave
Prentis, general secretary of Unison, which took Dugmore’s case to the High
Court, said that by winning the case, Unison had established an important legal
precedent – that employers have a strict liability to ensure that they protect
their workforce from harmful substances such as latex.

“This
has consequences not only for the NHS, but for industry as a whole, because
employers will no longer be able to argue that they did not know that a
substance was harmful,” he said.

Dugmore
said: “If this case makes employers sit up and take notice of the potential
danger of powdered latex gloves I will be very pleased. I don’t want anyone to
have to go through what I am living with every day. I cannot lead a normal life
and this has taken a toll on the whole family."

By
Daniel Thomas

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