Rhonda Peters from Manchester, was working as a Housekeeper’s Assistant at a residential home when she suffered her accident.
At the time of the accident Mrs Peters was going about her kitchen duties as usual. She started to wash up, in one of the two sinks available, and poured in a solution from a bottle that was clearly labelled ‘washing up liquid’.
When she first started working for her employer, everything was as you’d expect:
“I received training in stages in relation to health and safety, first aid, chemical use, manual handling, fire safety and food hygiene. This was regularly updated.
“I do not recall receiving any training in relation to the use of the actual cleaning equipment but it just seemed to be common sense.
“The cleaning cupboard was always locked and a key was available for all members of staff. If I had used the last of the washing up liquid I would discard the bottle and collect the new one from the cleaning cupboard.”
At the time of the accident Mrs Peters was washing up pans in the kitchen. She filled the sink with water and what she thought to be washing up liquid, however her hands soon became red, blotchy and itchy.
“The washing up liquid was kept in a normal size bottle with a label on it, this was not a brand but it clearly was labelled washing up liquid.
At this point, the chef checked the bottle with the floor cleaning container and it appeared the same colour, whereas washing up liquid is normally a bit lighter.”
Mrs Peters asked for the incident to be entered into the accident book so that there was a record and, although this was done, the senior member of staff was reluctant to do so.
Rhonda Peters visited her GP after the incident, as the symptoms didn’t improve, and she was diagnosed with contact dermatitis. Mrs Peters says that even today, she still makes regular visits to her GP for more cortisone cream and, because of the itching, sleepless nights are a regular occurrence.
She now has to wear gloves when showering, to prevent her hands becoming drier and the redness and itchiness worsening. It’s also necessary to wear gloves when at work.
“No procedures have changed at work, no one has ever discussed my incident or injuries with me and no further assessments have been carried out. As far as I’m aware the same procedures are in place and there has been no direct meetings with staff to explain that they should be careful in relation to the discarding and replacing of cleaning agents.”
Mrs Peters holds her employer responsible for the accident, her injuries and the constant flare ups that she suffers as a result and, thanks to Express’ Kate Sanderson and her commitment to the case, she was awarded £18,500 in compensation.