A man left permanently scarred by a rare illness described as ‘TB for fish’ has won a five-figure settlement.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with fish tank granuloma around a year into his work cleaning tanks and looking after fish for JMC Aquatics, based in Dronfield.
As well as suffering lesions and scarring, the worker developed side-effects linked with the medication he was required to take for eight months, including an upset stomach and an episode of shingles.
The man secured a five-figure settlement and an admission of liability from JMC Aquatics that more should have been done to protect him.
Alison Gregory, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell who represented the man, said: “This is a very worrying case in which a worker has contracted a serious illness as a result of problems which should have been avoided through something as simple as the provision of proper protective equipment and training.
“While we are delighted to have helped him gain justice regarding the issues he has faced which will hopefully help him move forward with his life, we would also urge those involved in the marine and aquatics industries to ensure that health and safety of workers remains their key priority.”
The man began work as a fish technician for JMC Aquatics in October 2012, with the role involving regularly handling fish imported from across the world. A year into the job, he noticed a lesion on his hand which then spread up his arm.
After seeing his GP, he was referred to the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and was diagnosed with fish tank granuloma. According to medical experts, the illness is ‘effectively a type of TB for fish’.
Irwin Mitchell launched an investigation into the problems and discovered that despite the role involving the worker having to reach deep inside the tanks and into the water, he was only supplied with latex gloves which covered up to his wrists. In addition, he was never provided with relevant training on infection or disease protection.
While the man has now recovered following his treatment, he has been left with residual scarring to his hand and arm. Medical experts have advised that the problems are likely to be permanent.
Alison Gregory of Irwin Mitchell added: “The lesions and scarring have caused our client embarrassment with him revealing how some people are now reluctant to shake his hand.
“In addition, he plays bass guitar in a band and is self-conscious about the appearance of his hands when playing.
“It is vital that lessons are learned from what he has faced and it is fundamental that workers have the correct equipment and training to do their jobs both effectively and safely.”