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Young Loughborough Lady Scarred For Life After 'Welcome Break' Burn

Legal Experts Call For Improved Health & Safety In Working Environments


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A young kitchen assistant left with a ten centimetre scar from a severe burn after a swinging door hit her in the back, has spoken about the dangers of not being provided with the correct safety equipment.

Lorna Sowerbutts, 21, from Costock, Loughborough instructed specialist legal experts at Irwin Mitchell  after severely burning her left arm following an incident last August whilst she was working as a Kitchen Assistant at Welcome Break, on the A50 road in Derby.

Lorna was carrying a tray of hot baguettes from the café front into the kitchen, where the only access was through a swinging fire door. On a normal day, the door is propped open but as this particular Welcome Break location was due a managerial visit, staff had been told to make sure the door through to the kitchen was closed.

She proceeded to carry the tray through to the kitchen and used her back to open the door as the tray she was carrying was quite large. As Lorna walked into the kitchen, the door swung inwards hitting her on the back causing the tray she was carrying to come into contact with her skin, burning the top of her left arm.

Lorna has told lawyers that the site manager at the time didn’t seem to hold basic first aid knowledge and used ice cubes as pain relief and to reduce the burning, which is not the recommended way of treating burn injuries.

On the day she was injured, Lorna continued to work with her arm bandaged up until her shift was over at 12.30pm.

Lorna, who is also studying Veterinary Medicine at Bristol University, has been left with both physical and emotional scars. Three weeks after the incident, she went on holiday to the Balearics which was supposed to be the highlight of her summer before returning to her studies, but due to the injury she sustained, Lorna spent most of the time covered up in factor 50 sun cream.

Injury specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell have now secured a settlement of £4,000 for Lorna, as she has been left with a nasty scar for life.

Emma Garnett, a workplace injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell representing her, said: "We are pleased for Lorna that we have managed to obtain a settlement which will help her towards her studies, but it will not change the fact that she now bares a nasty scar ten centimetres in length.

"Like any young female, Lorna is actively conscious about her own body and due to the location and severity of the scar, she wears clothes to cover her body up and it has really knocked her confidence.

"During a normal working day, she would be able to transport hot items between the kitchen and front of house due to the door always being propped open. We hope that businesses use this case as an example to improve the health and safety measures for their staff so incidents like this can be reduced.

"If Lorna had been provided with the correct clothing when working in a kitchen the severity of the injury would have been reduced if not completely avoided."

Veterinary Medicine student Lorna said of her ordeal: "I remember everyone was in a massive panic because we had a site visit from a manager, so it was a case of making sure everything was absolutely spotless. It can get extremely busy and that is why the door is normally left open so visually, the staff can see who is coming in an out which makes it safer for us to work.

"I was in agony when the door first hit me and the burns were still so painful the next day that I saw an accident and emergency nurse. It was then when I realised how serious the burns were. When my burn was properly treated, the skin just peeled off and became so sore for weeks.

"I was looking forward to the end of my summer holiday but spent most of it protecting my injury and being worried about what people would think. The scar is hideous and I will be stuck with it for life. I am really self conscious as to what people think now, so I wear long sleeve tops and jumpers to hide my arm away."

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to accident at work claims