Wood allergy claim settles

Posted: 20th March 2013

Timber StackA former joiner has won a five-figure sum in damages after he developed an allergy to a type of hardwood that could have been fatal.

Brian Ogden worked for a joinery firm run by his brother for over twenty years. He first experienced a problem with the particular sort of wood more than two decades ago. He noticed that he started having breathing problems, his eyes began to itch and he suffered irritation in his nose and throat.

The type of wood that produced his symptoms was Iroko timber, an African hardwood that has a variety of uses. Exposure to the sawdust can cause asthma and dermatitis and, more rarely, extrinsic allergic alveolitis, which is a disease with flu-like symptoms that can cause progressive lung damage.

Some years later, the firm secured another order that involved the use of Iroko timber. This time, Mr Ogden informed his boss of his allergic reaction to the material and he was provided with a mask. This failed to protect him from the dust, and he was soon battling flu-like symptoms. The reaction was so bad that he had to be admitted to hospital.

After he returned to work, Mr Ogden was given a better-quality mask with an electrically powered filter. When the battery ran out, however, it was not replaced and he continued to suffer the allergic reaction.

In 2009, the firm went into liquidation and Mr Ogden was made redundant. He brought a claim against his former employer and a five-figure amount in damages was negotiated with the firm’s insurance company.