£20,000 compensation for HGV driver exposed to excessive dust

Gloves on a dusty whisky barrel

One of our clients, a Unite Scotland member, has recently successfully sued Carntyne Transport and recovered compensation of £20,000 as a result of having been exposed to excessive levels of dust.

Stephen Tait was employed by Carntyne as an HGV Driver for five years, and his job involved loading and unloading whisky barrels. These were typically very dusty as they had been lying in storage for years. Dust would accumulate in the trailers with no proper cleaning regime in place. So, the problem worsened over time.

Even though employers ought to be aware of the risk of injury through exposure to high levels of dust, very few steps were taken by Carntyne. Those efforts that were made were taken too late in the day and were insufficient.

After around three years, Stephen developed a gradual loss of sense of smell and taste. As his symptoms worsened, he was seen by Occupational Health. He was diagnosed as suffering from Occupational Rhinitis – an unpleasant condition which is akin to living life with a constant heavy cold. His role at work had to be changed. Then he left the company and has happily found alternative work.

Carntyne’s insurers were not prepared to accept liability. On behalf of Stephen and Unite, we proceeded to sue Carntyne in Scotland’s specialist Personal Injury Court. After rejecting offers of £9,000 and £15,000 on their advice, Stephen’s case settled shortly before the Court Hearing for £20,000.

Julie Harris and Sean White of our personal injury team commented that Unite was instrumental in the success of this case. Their task was helped enormously by Stephen’s Unite branch who were able to provide clear evidence of complaints of dust levels, detailed Minutes of Health & Safety Meetings, and a very clear record of having drawn this problem to Carntyne’s attention over several years. They had made numerous suggestions to improve the work environment. Direct access to this level of detail allowed our solicitors to present a robust detailed case which was difficult for Carntyne to defend.

Stephen was delighted with the outcome and grateful for all the help provided by Unite and our team.

This case is a classic example of success as a direct result of Unite membership. Stephen also retains 100% of his compensation. Had he chosen to pursue this case other than through Unite, he would not have been able to present such a compelling case, and if he had been successful, he would have lost a large percentage of it in legal costs.

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