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A woman has won £50,000 in damages after her hands bled and blistered due to excessive handwashing.
Susan Robinson worked at Speedibake in Wakefield, west Yorkshire, which makes muffins, cupcakes, and mince pies for supermarket chains.
Within six months of starting her job, she noticed her hands had become red and itchy, and over time her symptoms got worse to the extent she was blistering and bleeding.
She visited a hospital, where it was confirmed she had contracted dermatitis due to her skin’s exposure to chemicals. Because she was washing her hands 17 times a day at work, her skin’s natural protective barrier had broken down.
Robinson asked her employer for hand protection and offered her own suggestions such as barrier creams and thinner gloves, but claimed her employer did not deal with the matter properly due to fears of contamination.
She approached her union, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) and law firm Thompsons to support a claim for compensation, and was granted £50,000.
In February 2020, a fire at the Wakefield factory meant it needed to close, and while most staff were transferred to the company’s Bradford site, Robinson was made redundant.
Her lawyer Clare Timmons from Thompsons said: “Of course, it’s imperative that high hygiene standards are maintained, but it should never be at the cost of an employee’s health.
"Speedibake could have, and should have, responded to this by taking Susan off the line as soon as she began to report symptoms and giving her other duties until they could support her safe return to the line.
[pullquote]This is yet another example of how employers who cut corners can really endanger the health and well-being of their employees” – Clare Timmons, law firm Thompsons[/pullquote]"However, because she was a good worker, they kept her working even though they knew it could be harming her. This is yet another example of how emplo