Latest News


Ex-Employee of Iceland recovers £25,000 compensation for frost bite

Tuesday 15th December, 2015

Mr A from Worcestershire worked as a shelf and freezer-stacker at the well-known frozen food retailer, Iceland.  Mr A would often spend hours working in the walk—in freezer store, stacking and organising stock. Mr A would then work on the shop floor replenishing the freezer cabinets. Mr A did not receive his own pair of appropriate gloves or protective equipment to use in the freezer. He was informed that employees were not permitted to wear gloves when working in public areas.

Mr A estimated that he spent some 5-6 hours a day working in temperatures of below minus 26 degrees. The communal gloves provided for the frozen food team were not specifically designed to be worn in such temperatures and were more similar to gardening gloves.

Mr A began to suffer with symptoms of frost bite and cold induced dermatitis on his face and hands in 2012. He reported the symptoms to Iceland and repeatedly asked for new, better gloves and hats. Mr A was always told that there were no funds in the budget to pay for the protective equipment. Eventually, Mr A’s GP said he was not fit for work due to his skin condition and Mr A’s wage went down to statutory sick pay.  Unfortunately, Mr A was not able to return to work and by Christmas 2013, Mr A and his young family could not pay the rent on their home and they found themselves homeless.

Meanwhile, Mr A received 18 sessions of UVA treatment at his local NHS hospital but this was not successful. He was advised that his skin had suffered a form of necrosis which meant the it could not repair itself. Frustrated, by his ongoing problems, Mr A felt he had no choice but to claim compensation for his injuries.

Throughout the claim, Iceland and their representatives denied that the gloves were unsuitable and alleged that they had a reasonable system of work in place. Mr A relied on an independent Co-worker to be his Witness who had also spent long periods in the freezer without appropriate equipment.

Iceland’s representatives continued to deny fault when legal proceedings were commenced. Iceland also denied that Mr A had suffered any injury alleging that the condition must have been caused elsewhere. Eventually, after two years of contested litigation, Iceland offered Mr A £25,000 to settle his claim, although they refused to make any admissions.



Mr A’s partner said “It really highlights the problems we had and the hard work that you put in to get the best result we could … Just know that we as a family can't thank you enough for helping us.”






The law provides that suitable protective equipment must be provided to all employees and employers need to specifically consider whether the protective equipment is suitable for their specific workplace. There are a host of British and European standards which provide guidance to employers on how to protect their staff when working in situations of extreme cold.

This case is a telling example of a well-known retailer failing to provide basic protective equipment which would have been inexpensive to select and buy. Their failure caused their member of their staff and their family to suffer with serious long-term physical problems. 


< Back to news