Health & Safety News

News added on 11.03.2019

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Hazardous substances

Chemical exposure led to serious skin problems

A chemicals manufacturer has been prosecuted for failing to manage the risk of its employees being exposed to harmful substances. What should it have done to protect its staff?

Fine Organics Ltd (F) manufactures chemicals and solutions used in the chemical and life sciences industries. Over a period of three years, employees at its Teeside plant were regularly exposed to chemicals that caused their skin to become sensitised. Once sensitised, subsequent exposure results in an inflammatory allergic reaction. Employees of F suffered from skin rashes and some had to leave their employment.

The HSE found that the company had fallen short in several key respects. F had failed to:

  • conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment
  • prevent the release of hazardous substances
  • prevent the spread of contamination
  • properly decontaminate the workplace; and
  • have in place an effective system of health surveillance.

F pleaded guilty to breaching its duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £224,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £17,000. The company was taken over by the Chinese life sciences business Lianhetech in 2017, which will be responsible for paying the fine and ensuring that workers are better protected going forward.

Despite working with chemicals being at the core of this employer’s business, it did not take action to protect its employees. It should have carried out a proper risk assessment and implemented measures to minimise their exposure to the skin-sensitising chemicals, including preventing and dealing with any contamination of the workplace.

© Indicator - FL Memo Ltd • Telephone: (01233) 653500 • Fax: (01233) 647100 • customer.services@indicator-flm.co.uk • www.indicator-flm.co.uk
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