Nando's waitress takes legal action after skin melts off from detergent

Mairi Espie needed specialist treatment after being soaked by the cleaning fluid during a shift.

Waitress launches legal action against Dundee Nando’s after skin melts off from cleaning detergent Digby Brown

Warning: This article contains graphic images.

A waitress has launched legal action against a Dundee Nando’s after her skin melted off and was permanently scarred by industrial cleaning fluid while on shift.

Mairi Espie suffered in agony and required specialist treatment at A&E after being splashed with the substance while emptying a container of cleaning detergent.

The corrosive liquid burned through her jeans and melted the skin on her right thigh, leaving a permanent scar.

The 21-year-old said Nando’s did not provide protective gloves or an apron for carrying out the task at the restaurant in Nethergate, Dundee.

Ms Espie, who graduated from Abertay University in July with a degree in criminology, went to Ninewells Hospital where medics provided a specialist washing treatment to remove the detergent.

She was then bandaged and had to recover at home for more than a week.

She said: “It was absolutely agony – it felt like my leg was on fire.

“I’m now left with a permanent scar in a really prominent place on my body.”

The injury suffered by Mairi Espie at Nando's.Digby Brown

However, Nando’s have said they “strongly dispute” the allegations.

The incident occurred in December 2019 when Ms Espie was tasked with changing the detergent for the dishwasher but when she removed the old bottle from the appliance it splashed her.

The heavy duty cleaner soaked through her jeans and melted her skin – leaving a three-inch sore that needed hospital treatment.

Ms Espie added: “I wasn’t given any special apron or gloves or anything – we were just kind of expected to crack on.

“The burn was so painful. It took months to heal properly but it’s the scarring that upset me the most.

“I’ve got scars on both my legs due to the splash going everywhere but it’s the right thigh that’s the worst. It makes me feel so nervous to wear shorts or skirts.

“A legal action is not something I wanted to do but I felt I didn’t have a choice because after it all happened I felt like Nando’s just fobbed me off like it was nothing.

“But it’s not – how could the skin melting off your leg be nothing?

“If nothing else, I just hope it makes things safer for other people as there must be people all over the country who work in hospitality and see injuries like this all the time and think it’s part of the job, but it’s not.”

Digby Brown Solicitors is now helping her with an employer’s liability claim.

The case, which called in court earlier this week, sets out that Nando’s was responsible as it failed to carry out a risk assessment, failed to provide Mairi with PPE and failed to provide proper training.

Simon Hammond, partner at Digby Brown in Edinburgh, said: “Workplace injuries are sadly a very common occurrence but what’s really unfortunate is just how avoidable they are.

“If Nando’s followed simple protective measures then Mairi would not have suffered like she has and you only need to look at the photo of her burn to imagine the pain she must have felt.”

A spokesperson for Nando’s said: “We strongly dispute these allegations.  We cannot provide any further comment given this is an ongoing case”.

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