Company director sentenced after exposing employees to hazardous substances
The director of a manufacturing firm based in Blackburn has been sentenced for deliberately allowing workers to use harmful substances without protection.
Preston Crown Court heard that the director of the now-dissolved manufacturing firm knowingly exposed employees to hazardous substances, including aerosolised paints containing isocyanates and solvents despite significant health risks.
Prolonged exposure to these substances can cause asthma and dizziness, as well as liver and kidney damage.
Inspectors found that the company had routinely failed to implement adequate controls or provide personal protective equipment to workers. The court also heard that unsafe work practices onsite were common and that issues had been purposefully covered up to avoid detection by inspectors.
The director pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 37 and 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to undertake 20 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £5,428.
At the conclusion of the case, HSE inspector Leona Cameron said the director “was well aware of the unsafe conditions that his employees were being subjected to whilst at work.
“The effect of being exposed to these substances has resulted in at least one former employee developing a life-changing condition, which could easily have been prevented if proper controls had been in place.”
Cable strike and employee injury ends in fine for groundwork contractor
A groundworks contractor operating in the south-east has been fined after a worker struck an underground electricity cable, causing significant burns to 50% of his body.
Magistrates heard that operatives working for the contractor were using electric groundbreaking equipment to dig post holes for a car park perimeter fence. While operating the tool, the victim struck an 11kv electricity cable which caused an immediate light flash and flames to engulf his clothing. The operative sustained severe burns to his face, chest, abdomen, groin, both arms and both legs.
An investigation by the (HSE) found that the contractor failed to use underground service plans to locate any cables before work began, and did not provide operatives with cable identification equipment as they conducted their work.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25 (4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, was fined £32,400 and ordered to pay additional costs of £2,657.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Ross Carter said “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
Dairy farm fined after employee suffers life-changing injury from exposure to corrosive chemical
A dairy farm in Buckinghamshire has been fined after an incident involving a corrosive substance left an employee permanently blind.
The employee in question was cleaning the walls of the dairy farm using DM CID, a corrosive disinfectant which contains potassium hydroxide.
A pump sprayer used to spread the substance developed a fault and ruptured, covering the employee in the corrosive disinfectant which left him permanently blind in both eyes.
The HSE found that management failed to supervise the use of chemicals for cleaning and did not have effective emergency procedures in place.
The farm operators pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £8,000 and ordered to pay additional costs of £11,880.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephen Faulkner said “While it was possible for both the pump sprayer and the chemical to be used for cleaning, this incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing correct control measures, safe working practices and appropriate emergency arrangements.
“Agriculture is an industry with a high accident rate, and the chemicals and activity involved in this incident are common in dairy farming, so this case should send a message to farms about the dangers of working with chemicals.”