Fife man suffers chemical burns after given the wrong boots

Man looking pensive

Mr Aitken, a 43-year-old man from Fife, suffered chemical burns at work when he was handling corrosive chemicals.  He was a chemical HGV lorry driver and this involved transporting large quantities of chemicals.

It was a new job and he was provided with brief training and told that he would be given adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to allow him to safely carry out his work.

On the day of his accident, he was wearing wellington boots provided by his employer. However, as Mr Aitken began connecting a pipe to move caustic soda from his HGV, a large quantity of it began leaking onto his boots. He managed to stop it as quickly as possible but it was too late. He suffered chemical burns to his right foot.

As far as he was aware, his employer had provided him with the correct PPE to carry out his job. However, it emerged later that his employer had negligently issued him with standard wellington boots and not chemical resistant boots as they should have done.

As a result of his employers negligence, Mr Aitken had to seek immediate medical attention and still suffers from pain and discomfort in his foot.  He has also been left with permanent scarring.

“It was very painful and upsetting what happened. I was in my first year in the chemical industry and I was really excited about progressing within the trade but after everything that happened, I’ve moved out that industry entirely.

“It has opened up my eyes about the dangers and what could happen. I’m angry that they allowed me to carry out a life threatening job without the right equipment and training and that they still didn’t seem to learn from the accident.”

Mr Aitken decided to contact Digby Brown to see if he had a case for personal injury against his employer.

“I wanted my employer to recognise they were at fault for my accident, take responsibility and learn from what happened to make sure it never happened to anyone else.”

Solicitor Fiona Bisset, who specialises in personal injury in our Kirkcaldy office, carried out investigations into the circumstances of accident. She found that the Health and Safety Executive had identified significant violations of health and safety law.

Our team had to prove that Mr Aitken’s employer had been at fault for his accident. Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, the employer ought to have ensured that his exposure to hazardous substances was prevented or adequately controlled. They failed to do so.  The employer also failed to provide suitable PPE under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

Our Kirkcaldy solicitors were able to persuade the employer’s insurers to admit liability for the accident and subsequent injuries.

They also arranged for Mr Aitken to be examined by a specialist medical expert to find out if any treatment would be beneficial for his recovery. The costs of this was included in his claim and in the end, the case settled for £9,000.

“My life has changed completely because of the accident. It has affected the way I think about things and how I view employers now. I still think about it every day, but I’ve had to put it behind me so I can move forward.

“Digby Brown did a fantastic job and did everything they could for me. They were very friendly and answered any questions I had and they knew exactly how to deal with things as they came up. It was clear they knew what they were doing.”

Compensation doesn’t allow us to turn back time and stop an accident but it can go some way to put right what happened and hold an employer to account