Defective product news


Rehab for burns victims: How a fish can help

The specialist severe burns injury lawyers at Boyes Turner are fascinated to learn that, in an attempt to improve treatments and recoveries for burns victims, researchers in Brazil are now experimenting with Tilapia Fish Skin.

Burns can be caused in many ways, from simple accidents in the home (such as a decorative outdoor gel burner which explodes when lit) through to serious accidents in the workplace

Boyes Turner’s burns specialist solicitors acted for a client who suffered severe chemical burns to 65% of his body when a pipe in a milk processing factory containing caustic soda exploded in front of him. The client needed painful emergency treatment and after a lengthy recovery period was left with extensive scarring and psychological injury. 

In addition to securing full compensation for our severe burn injury clients, we aim to maximise their recovery by obtaining funding for conventional treatment and rehabilitation, such as surgery, dermabrasion and laser treatment as well as psychological therapy to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety.

Following a burn, patients are typically treated with chemicals such as medicated creams and dressings which are replaced regularly to reduce the risk of infection. However, Brazilian researchers claim that the use of fish skin to treat the burns is better for the patient and also cuts costs.  In particular, the researchers claim the application of fish skin to a burn:

  • Eases pain.
  • Allows the transfer of collagen to the burn, a protein which promotes healing.
  • Keeps burns naturally moist.
  • Naturally fights the risk of infection.
  • Reduces the risk for chemical medications.
  • Speeds the healing process by several days.
  • Can be easily peeled away from the burn reducing the patient’s pain and improving their recovery journey.

Additionally, Tilapia are abundant in Brazil’s rivers and have a high food consumption rate in Brazil resulting in a surplus of the skin which is usually thrown away as waste. Odorico de Morais, a Professor at Ceara University, Brazil said,

“The fish skin is usually thrown away, so we are using this product to convert it into something of social benefit.”.

Before the skin is used it is treated with sterilization agents to kill viruses and to remove the fish smell. The skin is then frozen and can be stored for a period of two years.

The use of skin to treat burns is not completely un-precedented, however, in the past many countries have applied human and pig skin to burns to treat them and assist in the recovery process.

So far, 56 patients have successfully been treated with Tilapia skin as part of a clinical trial.

Boyes Turner understand the impact a burn can have on a person. Following the initial injury which is extremely painful, victims are often left facing a long recovery, and are usually left with unsightly scars which have a psychological impact.

Boyes Turner await the results of the Tilipia trial and are keen to discover whether the use of Tilapia skin will be approved in Brazil and elsewhere as a mainstream method of treatment for the benefit of burns victims.

If you or someone you know has been affected by burns please contact us to see if we can assist you in pursuing a claim and exploring your rehabilitation options.

The dangers of black henna temporary tattoos

Thousands of British holiday makers are set to go on holiday this year and most will return with fantastic stories of sun, sea, sand and great friends they met along the way, but sadly many are returning with permanent skin damage from “temporary” black henna tattoos.

Henna tattoos have been around for several centuries and there are reports of people from ancient Egypt and India using this natural form of temporary tattoo for religious ceremonies, wedding festivals, and in many cases for simple body adornment.  Some people even dye their hair with henna.

But what is henna?

Natural henna dye is derived from the plant, Senna italica. This type of henna is a naturally occurring compound which leaves an orange/brownish mark on the skin when applied as a tattoo.

Natural henna tattooing is still used widely today and, correctly handled, can be a wonderful cosmetic compliment to a person at a religious ceremony or wedding.

Black henna

However, there is another form of henna tattooing that can be highly dangerous – “black henna temporary tattoos” (BHTTs). Organisations such as the British Skin Foundation (BSF) strongly discourage people from getting this type of tattoo. The reason BHTTs are so dangerous is that most contain a chemical called para-phenylenediamine (PPD).

PPD is found in many beauty products such as hair dyes, where it is non-harmful, legal and safe to use.  However, PPD as a compound of henna dye can be extremely harmful to the skin. For that reason, it is illegal in the European Union.

Examples of harm that can be caused by skin contact with PPD include:

  • Painful skin burns.
  • Long term temporary scarring.
  • Permanent scarring.
  • Leaving the person with a lifelong sensitivity to PPD which in turn can increase the risk of a severe allergic reaction when using hair dye products in the future.

Below is an example of a painful reaction that someone has had to black henna.

The BSF originally launched a campaign in 2015 under the hashtag #AvoidBlackHenna. The campaign has now been re-released in 2017 owing to an increasing number of BHTT injuries being seen by British dermatologists.  The decision to re-issue the campaign in 2017 is also backed by the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA).

The message is clear:

“Having a “black henna” temporary tattoo presents a significant risk of a very nasty, adverse reaction to the tattoo itself.  It also increases the risk of either not being able to use most hair dyes in the future or having a bad reaction to them if the warnings are ignored.  Most importantly, parents will want to safeguard their children this summer by steering clear of so-called “black henna” temporary tattoos.”

Dr Christopher Flower, Director-General CTPA

Of course, scars can occur in a number of ways, including cuts, burns, electrocution and chemical reactions.

It is important, if you have a scar injury, that you are fully aware of what steps can be taken not only to treat the initial injury, but to care for it in the future.

Scar tissue care, treatment and rehabilitation should be carried out under medical advice but can include:

  • Education and therapy on how to cope with the psychological effect of scar injuries.
  • Education on how to physically care for scar tissue.
  • Laser treatment.
  • The application of creams.
  • The use of special make up products to camouflage the scar.
  • Plastic surgery to lessen the visual appearance of the scar or replace the scarred tissue.

Boyes Turner Personal Injury specialists see a number of injuries each year where people have been left with painful and unsightly scars, many of which will also leave the victim with psychological damage. Once liability has been established for the injury we can help assess the best options for future care through our network of expert therapists, dermatologists and plastic surgeons and recover reasonable treatment costs through interim payments and final settlement awards.

APIL support carbon monoxide alarm bill

MP Andrew Bingham has presented a Household Safety Bill to make carbon monoxide detectors compulsory on newly built homes and rental properties.

The Bill which is next due for debate in the House of Commons on 5 December will be supported by APIL of which Personal Injury Partner, Kim Smerdon is a member.

She says: “This is excellent news. A carbon monoxide alarm is just as necessary in the home as a smoke alarm and will prevent unnecessary deaths from monoxide poisoning”.

Landlord prosecuted for Carbon Monoxide poisoning

A local landlord has been prosecuted and given a suspended prison sentence for failing to maintain a faulty gas boiler which led to the death of one of her tenants from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The 51 year old was found dead by friends at the property and his partner was also unconscious. Luckily she made a full recovery. A neighbour also became ill as a result of the carbon monoxide poisoning.

In 2008 a gas employee visited the property and labelled the boiler as immediately dangerous and the boiler was disconnected. Unfortunately the boiler was not repaired and was reconnected by the deceased over a year later.

The landlord was found guilty of 7 breaches of the Gas Safety Installation Regulations and an investigation found that the boiler which was installed around 1982 was producing high levels of CO which affected both the landlords property and the houses on either side.

Noelle Walker, HSE Inspector says “Landlords must have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out by a gas safe registered engineer. Carbon monoxide is poisonous, you can’t see it, you can’t taste it and you can’t even smell it but it can kill without warning and in just a matter of hours”.

Kim Smerdon, Specialist Personal Injury Solicitor says:

“Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer. This was a tragic case – indeed carbon monoxide poisoning cases always are. The landlord completely failed in her responsibilities and she should have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the property’s gas fittings and flues were checked for safety every year, maintained in a safe condition and that the boiler was properly serviced. Had she done so then the tenants death could have been avoided”.

The 18 November marks the 8th Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, a National campaign to learn more about the danger of carbon monoxide.

Retractable dog lead danger

It was recently reported in the Reading Post that a local five-year old child suffered injury to his face and eye as a result of a retractable dog lead which he had ridden into, being unable to see it whilst on his bicycle. The majority of on-line commentators were surprisingly unsympathetic, suggesting that it was the mother’s fault for failing to supervise her son,  and for failing to teach her son to be “more aware” of what is going on around him.

This reaction is surprising – unless they are, without exception, child-free dog owners – because retractable leads have been found in numerous legal cases to constitute a danger and have caused injury on many occasions, not just to children and cyclists, but to pedestrians. In fact, if a retractable dog lead causes injury to another road user whilst on the public highway it has been found to constitute a “nuisance” and as such to carry strict liability i.e.  the dog owner who uses one of those leads on a public street is at risk of being found to be to blame for injuries suffered by another, regardless of the particular circumstance on that occasion.

I have in the past acted for an injured person who was knocked off their feet when a dog on a retractable dog lead suddenly bolted across her path – certainly not a case of her failing to look where she was going. She was an elderly lady and suffered a nasty knee injury as she fell.

Dog owners would be well advised to invest in a standard fixed length lead. Not only will they be avoiding any risk of civil liability themselves, but will also potentially be avoiding injury to another small child on a  bike, who – with the best will in the world and the most skilful parenting possible – will occasionally fail to properly assess his or her surroundings before gleefully pedalling on.

Road worker loses leg due to defective work equipment

A Staffordshire contractor has been fined after an employee had to have his lower leg amputated after he slipped into an unguarded slurry mixer. The contractor was in charge of a gang of road workers sealing a pavement on Wilson Road, Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent, when the accident happened on 13 September 2012.

The injured, 36-year-old worker from Stoke-on-Trent, slipped as he climbed from a flat-bed lorry which was next to the mixer. He put his left leg down to steady himself but it went through the unguarded opening of the mixer. The moving paddles in the mixer severely injured his lower left leg, resulting in amputation below the knee.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found the guard over the rotating paddles in the petrol-powered mixer had been removed the day before the incident and not replaced. The mixer should not have been used once the guard had been removed. The contractor was aware of this defect but took no action to warn his workers of the risks and prevent use of the machine.

Adrianna Rajwa, personal injury Chartered Legal Executive at Boyes Turner, comments: “This accident could have been avoided. Guarding on the mixer was there for a reason – to prevent people getting hurt. The contractor failed in his duties to these workers by allowing them to use the defective work equipment. He put his employees at risk of injury or even death. He failed in his duty to ensure that, so far as reasonably practicable, his employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety. Employers must ensure to devise and maintain safe system of work. Work should be carefully planned and managed at all times to ensure safety of employees.

Were you injured when using Defective Equipment at work? If you are the victim of an accident at work, the first thing to do is to seek medical attention to have the extent of any injuries sustained assessed by a medical professional. If possible, try to take photographs of the defective equipment and obtain witness contact details. The next step is to get in touch with a solicitor who is experienced in this field.

Have you been injured by your supermarket sun cream?

Boyes Turner specialist product liability solicitors are acting for a claimant who has apparently suffered a serious burn-type reaction after using a supermarket own brand sun tan lotion. 

The product was stated to be suitable for sensitive skin and caused a reaction which has required medical treatment and is likely to result in permanent scarring.

Washing tablets can potentially cause serious injury to children

In the latest in potential product liability claims there have been concerns raised by the possible risk of injury posed the washing tablets.

When you put your dirty washing into the washing machine or your dirty dishes into the dishwasher, the last thing you would think about is the dangers of the liquid tablets which you put into the machines to make everything sparkly and clean.

National warnings have been distributed across the country warning of the dangers of these various liquid tablets after some children have been treated for being exposed to these chemicals and suffering severe personal injuries in the forms of chemical burns, internally and externally, and irritation and swelling to various parts of their body. There have also been reports of some near fatal injuries from ingesting the tablets.

It can easily be seen why children are attracted to the liquid tablets as the tablets are small and colourful and could easily be mistaken for a sweet or toy. The tablets are also normally in see-through packaging making it easy to see them. The unsuspecting children, who play with these tablets are putting them in their mouths and biting them, tearing them opening and exposing the dangerous chemicals inside.

Once the chemicals are ingested there is possibility of swelling in the throat which causes severe breathing difficulties. There have been reports of some children having to be put on a ventilator for up to two weeks until the swelling subsides.

The packaging which the liquid tablets come in, are not completely child-proof which means that most curious minors will be able to open up the container and in turn open themselves up to risk. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 deals with the safety of products and product liability in the UK and how products are deemed safe for distribution in the UK. In terms of this legislation, the producer (who actually made the product), the person selling the product, the importers or anyone in the supply chain could be held liable for breach of this Act.

Reports have now been published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood to alert everybody of the dangers of liquid tablets.

Many parents are not fully aware of the dangers which household products pose when exposed and more importantly when their children are exposed. A simple bottle of bleach or cleaning detergent could causes their child severe injuries or chemical burns which could quite simply have been avoided. Parents are urged to keep all household chemicals firmly locked away and out of reach of their minor children.

Should you suspect your child to have eaten or been exposed to these chemicals, you should take your child to the nearest A&E for assessment.

Product liability recall for sanyo microwave ovens

Sanyo continue their product recall on thousands of Sanyo microwave ovens sold between March 2010 and January 2012.

The affected microwaves have the model number EN-C8787BUK2 (Black colour) or EM-C8787W (white colour). The number is on the rating plate which is on the back of the microwave.

The problem is thought to have been caused by some of the microwave’s internal circuitry being in electrical contact with the buttons on the external control panel. These production failures which were apparently missed by Sanyo’s inspection procedures could potentially cause electric shocks.

The advice from Sanyo is to stop using the microwave oven immediately and unplug it.

Kim Smerdon, a product liability claim specialist comments as follows: “If you have been injured as a result of using a faulty or unsafe product you may be entitled to make a defective product compensation claim. We deal with many product liability cases and we are able to help victims who have suffered injuries as a result of defective products. We are able to deal with claims on a no-win-no-fee basis and secure maximum compensation in many cases, including burns, electric shocks, poisoning and a wide range of allergic reactions.”

£7.5k Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Compensation

A company which specialised in repairing chimneys was ordered to pay compensation to an elderly woman following carbon monoxide poisoning in her home over a period of a year.

The defendant company had been employed to carry out repairs at the pensioner’s house and during the course of works damaged the gas fire and chimney. Following complaint by the victim the defendant company certified the gas fire as safe to use.

The victim continued to use the fire and suffered poisoning as a result of gas leaking into the upstairs bedroom.

An action was brought in negligence and breach of statutory duty under the Gas Safety ( Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1957.

The company was ordered to pay £7500 to the victim.

Kim Smerdon, a specialist personal injury solicitor, commented as follows: “Carbon monoxide is very dangerous as it is odourless tasteless and colourless. Approximately 300 people are killed every year in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning and there are hundreds of people who suffer long term health problems due to exposure to carbon monoxide. If liability is not an issue and the case is straightforward we can usually achieve a settlement for victims within a year.”

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