Employers to protect workers

A nurse who suffered an anaphylactic reaction after using latex gloves while
working has won almost £250,000 in compensation and cleared the way for similar
cases against employers.

The decision marks the end of an eight-year legal battle that saw the rules
on harmful substances tightened up. An earlier High Court ruling in the case
forced employers to ensure that staff are protected from potentially harmful
substances such as latex.

Alison Dudgmore was forced to give up nursing after she developed a
life-threatening allergy to latex after working at two hospitals in Swansea.
She suffered respiratory problems and skin irritation after using the gloves
and still carries an epi-pen in case she comes in to contact with latex.

Cardiff County Court awarded Dudgmore £240,000 compensation after the High
Court found in her favour in 2002 in a decision that made employers liable for
the protection of staff from harmful substances.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of trade union Unison which handled the
case, said employers could no longer argue they did not know a substance was
dangerous. "By winning this case Unison has established an important legal
precedent – that employers have a strict liability to ensure they protect the
workforce from harmful substances such as latex. This has consequences not only
for the NHS but for industry as a whole," he said.

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