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Supreme Court decision to allow work compensation claims for ‘symptomless’ injuries

A decision reached in an appeal heard by the Supreme Court last month is set to have a significant impact on claimants seeking industrial injury or industrial disease compensation in situations where such injuries are essentially ‘symptomless’. The appeal case, Dryden & Others v Johnson Matthey PLC , saw three previous employees of Johnson Matthey -manufacturers of catalytic converters for vehicle exhaust systems – seek compensation for injuries suffered as a result of regular exposure to platinum salts. The claimants managed to raise funds for the appeal via a crowdfunding page.

Platinum metal, from where the platinum salts are derived, is widely used in the catalytic converter manufacturing process. The claimants alleged that their employer breached its duty of care to ensure the factories were adequately cleaned, and as a result the claimants were regularly exposed to platinum salts at work despite personal protective equipment being worn. The company admitted breach of statutory duty but denied that any injury had occurred.

Human contact with platinum salts can affect the immune system and can lead to a person suffering from sensitisation and allergic reactions such as skin blemishes, rhinitis or asthma. The claimants pursued a claim for damages as following occupational health tests, they were each found to have developed such sensitisation. Upon diagnosis, the company had then moved them on from their normal duties and they were subsequently dismissed, suffering loss of earnings as a result.

This is a landmark decision from the Supreme Court and means that in this particular case, the three claimants will be entitled to receive compensation for the financial losses they have suffered as a result of their exposure in the work environment. As the decision means that as sensitisation can now be treated as an industrial disease, there may be may be many other employees working in similar environments who may also now be entitled to pursue compensation claims for compensation.

If you or a member of your family have been unfortunate enough to suffer an injury or illness at work, contact us for further advice on 0800 977 4852 or by email here..

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