24 October 2013
A machinery manufacturer that produces agricultural and industrial equipment has been fined by the HSE after an investigation proved employees at the site were at a high risk of developing asthma through the spraying of a hazardous chemical due to Inadequate PPE.
The verdict of poor personal protective equipment (PPE) came to light following an unannounced HSE visit to the company two years previous to the courts ruling.
Grantham Magistrates’ Court heard that the agricultural machinery manufacturer allowed trailers to be sprayed with isocyanate-containing paint, without fully assessing the potential dangers and implementing adequate controls to protect workers from the effects of the chemical.
HSE inspectors found that the paint was being sprayed in large quantities, and that the respiratory protective equipment and spray booths were not being used to full effectiveness.
Grantham Magistrates’ Court heard that although staff at the machinery manufacturer were provided with personal protective equipment, the overalls were torn and all gloves that were worn were unsuitable for preventing chemicals breaking through and infiltrating employees skin and clothing.
In addition, the HSE inspectors found further Inadequate PPE in the spray booths at the site had not been maintained properly, as they were being used with the doors open and parts of the trailers were protruding into the workshop, meaning there was great potential for even more hazardous exposure. As well as hygiene facilities provided for staff were found to be in an extremely unhygienic condition including an emergency shower that had been out of commission for years.
The machinery manufacturer in question, Marston Agricultural Services Ltd, of Toll Bar Road, Marston, Grantham, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay a further £13,420 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974.
“Marston Agricultural Services failed to adequately control their employees’ exposure to hazardous chemicals over an extended period of time, despite having repeatedly received advice from the HSE and others on the requirements of the COSHH regulations.”
“Breathing in isocyanate paint mist can cause asthma and paint sprayers are about 80 times more likely to get asthma than the average worker. Continued exposure may lead to permanent and severe asthma for which there is no cure. In some cases sufferers also become unable to use common household chemicals such as cleaning materials and shampoo. Almost certainly the sufferer would have to give up their current job.” said HSE inspector Emma Madeley.
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