Unions warn employers after hazardous substance ruling

Unions
say a High Court decision will make it compulsory for employers to ensure that
their employees are protected from exposure to harmful substances such as
latex.

The
case of Welsh nurse Alison Dugmore was taken up by her union Unison when she
developed a life-threatening reaction to latex powdered gloves.

The
gloves were coated with corn powder which would get into the atmosphere and
then be inhaled. This resulted in Dugmore developing skin irritation and
respiratory problems from the exposure.

The
High Court ruled in Dugmore’s favour and referred the case back to the county
court for a ruling on damages.

Unison
said the decision will have wide-ranging consequences not just for the NHS, but
for industry in general, because employers will no longer be able to argue they
didn’t know a substance was harmful.

Katy
Clark, Unison’s legal officer, said: "This is a landmark decision, not
just for latex personal injury cases, but also for other types of cases
involving allergic reactions to substances in the workplace.

By Quentin Reade

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