Teacher wins £3,500 compensation after chemical fume incident in school

A science teacher from Cumbria who was exposed to poisonous fumes after staff complaints about a poorly ventilated chemicals cupboard were ignored has been awarded compensation.

The 34-year-old from Wigton was exposed to bromine fumes while she was working as a senior science technician at Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle.

The lid on a bottle of bromine was corroded and the fumes from it were escaping in to the small poisons cupboard and the prep room where she was working.

Despite only just being moved into a brand new building, the poisons cupboard was not being properly ventilated and despite persistent requests from the staff to have it repaired, nothing was done.

When the teacher entered the room she immediately began to feel irritation in her eyes, nose and throat. The room was quickly evacuated and members of staff investigated what was leaking before the fire services was called to make the area safe again.

For several weeks the teacher suffered with coughing and headaches.

She decided to contact the trade unions for advice and a specialist legal team to help her make a compensation claim.

Richard Rose Central Academy admitted liability and settled the claim with the victim outside of court.

She received a total of £3,500 in compensation.

“I felt it was important to claim compensation so that steps were made to ensure this type of accident could never happen again,” the teacher told a local newspaper.

A spokesperson from the UNISON said, “Chemical store rooms are hazardous places which must be closely controlled particularly in a school environment where young people and teachers are at risk of exposure. This was a brand new school building so there was no excuse for not ensuring the room and storage cupboards had adequate ventilation. Additionally staff members had brought up this extremely worrying health and safety concern time and again only for their fears to fall on deaf ears.”

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