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This article was published on July 27th, 2016
A manufacturing company has been investigated by the Health and Safety Executive after a routine health and safety inspection found that staff were at risk of exposure to a toxic substance and despite being warned to take action and rectify the health risk, they did not do so for 22 months.
The toxic substance in question is called styrene and the company uses it in the production process of their products. An inspection of the premises in 2013 identified that there was no adequate processes or procedures in place to control the exposure to the employees such as an extraction system to remove the toxic substance from the air and filtered masks to prevent inhalation.
Side effects of breathing in styrene include irritation to the nose, throat and lungs, neurological effect which can include poor concentration, drowsiness, headaches and nausea.
The HSE found that the company failed to make the necessary improvements to the premises after an improvement notice was served in May 2013 and only added the necessary safety processes once they moved into new premises in March 2015 leaving employees exposed to toxins for 22 months.
The manufacturing company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.
An HSE Inspector said: “ Workers’ health was put at risk from exposure to styrene for a period of 22 months, even after the company had been made aware of the actions it needed to take.
“Whilst HSE is sympathetic to the pressures faced by small businesses, this is simply not acceptable. Employers need to take action to ensure they are providing adequate control to protect the health of their employees.”
Employers have a duty to comply with Health and Safety laws and regulations and provide their employees with a safe, accident free environment and if they don’t fulfill this then they are breaking the law, as well as putting you at risk. If you have an accident at work as a result then you have a right to file an injury at work claim against them.
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