A SCOTTISH woman is taking legal action against Nando’s, claiming she was left permanently scarred while working in one of their restaurants.

The South African chain – which has disputed all the allegations involved – is being sued by Mairi Espie, from Dundee, who said her skin was melted by industrial cleaning fluid.

Espie said the liquid was so corrosive it burned through her jeans and melted the skin on both her legs, including a three-inch wound on her right thigh.

The 21-year-old, who said she was not provided with any protective equipment, needed specialist treatment at A&E.

Espie 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.”

Though the total being sought in damages has not been disclosed, Espie’s lawyers suggested it was a “five-figure sum”.

The injury is said to have happened in December 2019 at the Nando’s restaurant in Nethergate, Dundee, where was tasked with changing the detergent for the dishwasher.

Espie said when she removed the old bottle from the appliance it splashed her and burned through her jeans.

She said she went to Ninewells Hospital where medics provided a specialist washing treatment to remove the detergent before being bandaged being sent home to recover for more than a week.

The National: An image showing Mairi Espie's injuryAn image showing Mairi Espie's injury (Image: Digby Brown Solicitors)

Espie, who graduated from Abertay University in July with a degree in criminology, said: “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.”

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Espie is taking legal action against Nando’s through an employer’s liability claim with help from Digby Brown Solicitors.

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 Espie with PPE, and failed to provide proper training.

Simon Hammond, a 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."