Personal injury claimant awarded £6k after toxic coolant leak triggers machine operator’s lung condition

Whilst many accidents are admittedly unavoidable there is a catalogue of human errors which contribute to an innocent party either sustaining an injury or suffering an illness as a result of another person or company’s negligence. One such individual was an unnamed machine operator who was employed by an aircraft manufacturer, during which time the operator was under its employ – and therein its duty of care – the individual became unwittingly exposed to toxic coolant; which subsequently triggered an adverse effect on the employee’s health.

The legacy of this exposure to the toxic coolant – an episode which the personal injury claimant was unaware of at the time – was the later medical diagnosis of a condition called ‘hypersensitivity pneumonitis’; an infliction which develops in the victim’s lungs and which is characterised by shortness of breath and general lack of energy required to carry out the ordinarily simplest of physical tasks.

Inflaming the vital organ in question with its presence, hypersensitivity pneumonitis results from the inhalation of toxic substances, and in this claimant’s case was eventually diagnosed after being referred to a specialist who carried out specific x-rays to establish the recurrent health complaint.

The claimant returned to his previous role at a later date, yet the machine which was found to have been responsible for the condition taking root hadn’t been identified as the culprit and therefore hadn’t been fixed. Consequently the claimant’s health deteriorated once again and he required further time off from his employer.

The very reason the machine was emitting this toxic coolant was discovered to be due to filters being outdated and requiring replacement. On two separate occasions the claimant had reported his physical condition – and moreover just how he’d been affected – to his managers, yet the source of the problem couldn’t be determined in each instance.

It was only when the source of problem involving the machine was pinpointed – with a leak being highlighted – that the claimant’s employers sought to correct the situation (which had also been flagged up by colleagues of the injured party, who began to complain of similar symptoms including lethargy), by way of ensuring that the machine’s filters were regularly changed, together with making sure that extractor fans were being routinely facilitated to ventilate the factory.

However these revisions came too late to help the claimant, as the initial damage had already been done. Feeling justifiably aggrieved that his prior concerns had fallen on deaf ears, the claimant contacted his union’s legal services arm, who in turn advised him to approach a personal injury claims specialist with a view to pursuing compensation with regard to the contracting of a recognised industrial disease in the workplace.

Speaking after been awarded a settlement sum of £6,000, the machine operator said; “At its worst my condition has been debilitating. The symptoms would ease when I got home from work, but as soon as I was back by the machine I would struggle to breathe. I had worked with these machines for decades so I knew this wasn’t normal, but my employer couldn’t seem to understand the problem.”

The Regional Secretary at Unite the Union (with whom the claimant was a member and sought guidance from with regards to his potential personal injury case from the outset), also went on record as saying; “The outdated filters meant that toxins would escape from the machine, and because the extractor fans weren’t used the coolant was airborne.”