The West

Worker was exposed to chemicals
Leslie Dyson. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

Almost anything in her home, even water, can cause 43-year-old Leslie Dyson's hands, arms and legs to come out in painful rashes and lumps.

The Gosnells mother of four has allergic dermatitis that she will probably have for life - the legacy of working as a process worker for a Perth company where she electroplated metals with chemicals.

By the time she stopped working a year ago - when the company agreed to pay her workers' compensation - skin was peeling off her eye lids, cheeks, stomach and even her armpits.

She uses steroid cream every day to try to avoid flare-ups of the rashes that can last for months.

"I can't wear perfumes or deodorants and I rarely use shampoo because these products burn my skin," she said.

"I can't even be exposed to too much water, heat or sweat, and chemicals including household cleaning products. My three daughters help out with cleaning the house and cooking."

Ms Dyson said she was exposed to a range of chemicals including tantalum chloride, pentanol, ruthenium chloride, hexachloroiridate solution and, to a lesser extent, epoxy, nickel and cobalt.

She claims her employer failed to provide her with protective clothing - instead giving her only yellow dishwashing gloves.

"It wasn't until I saw a specialist and showed him what gloves we were using that he found out we should've been using rubberised gloves that don't seep," she said.

She resented that she had to investigate the safety of the chemicals she was working with, instead of the onus being on her employer.

Slater and Gordon workers' compensation lawyer Joel Schneider warned many workers were still being exposed to hazardous chemicals.

"It's alarming that a workplace can still pose such a serious health hazard to its workers and that an employer appears to have little regard for the safety and health of its workers," he said.

Mr Schneider said people worried about their exposure to chemicals should contact WorkSafe.

The West Australian

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