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Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust Fined After 23 Staff Suffer With Dermatitis

HSE Found The Trust Failed To Prevent Or Monitor Cases


The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,620 after it failed to take measures to prevent or monitor at least 23 cases of dermatitis among staff between 2007 and 2012.

Dermatitis can be an issue in industries where staff are required to regularly wash their hands, such as in hospitals and kitchens. It most commonly affects the hands and face, causing the areas to become dry, cracked and itchy.

It can also be caused by contact with chemicals included in cleaning products, machine oil, soaps and solvents.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the cases of dermatitis at the Trust found there was limited information available for staff on preventing the development of the condition.

It was also found that the trust failed to carry out regular health checks of employees to detect skin issues and the symptoms of dermatitis.

HSE Inspector Emma O’Hara, speaking after the hearing, said: “Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which employs 5,000 people, failed to have an adequate management system in place to prevent dermatitis, a recognised condition in the health sector, and deal with it when it arose. Dermatitis is a painful and often unsightly condition which can affect the individual psychologically, socially and physically. 

“Employers must ensure they identify risks to staff and come up with plans and procedures to minimise the risks and make sure cases that do occur are properly treated and recorded.” 

Expert Opinion
Dermatitis can be painful, uncomfortable and cause significant distress both physically and emotionally for those affected. As such it is essential that employers take steps to prevent and monitor the condition.

“This case demonstrates how occupational failings can cause injuries to multiple employees. It highlights the importance of proper education and training and for health checks to be provided to staff.”
Alex Shorey, Solicitor

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