Fine For Company Negligent Of Dermatitis Risk

Employees Exposed To Hazardous Substances

29.09.2009


A company has pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

Prysmian Cables and Systems Limited was fined £27,500 and ordered to pay costs of £10,700, at Southampton Crown Court, relating to incidents which took place between 3rd January 2006 and 17th March 2008, when managers failed to control the risks of exposing employees to hazardous substances, including a known skin irritant, at the company’s premises in Eastleigh.

As a result, one employee has been diagnosed with severe dermatitis, which the court heard had a huge impact on his life - he was required to take retirement on medical grounds, limiting his future employment prospects.

The HSE says the case is a reminder to companies of the importance of managing dermatitis risks, through effective risk assessments and taking adequate precautions to ensure that employees are not exposed to hazardous substances at work.

HSE Specialist Inspector in Occupational Health, Anne Bartlett, said: "This case illustrates the need for employers to take dermatitis risks as seriously as any other risks to health and safety in the workplace. Dermatitis is not just a simple rash which can be ignored, but a painful, debilitating and, as this case proves, life-changing condition which can easily be avoided.

"All employers should undertake risk assessments that correctly identify all of the significant risks, including those to health, and as a result ensure that an appropriate package of measures, including physical safeguards, safe systems of work, protective clothing, consistent training and appropriate health surveillance are provided for the safety of all workers."

Lee Carnall of Irwin Mitchell stated "This very serious incident highlights the disappointing and alarming attitude of employers to health and safety issues faced by thousands of workers on a daily basis.

Employees attend work to perform a service for their employers and in return are afforded protection from harmful substances under the law. When these safeguards are disregarded the consequences can have lasting effects on their health and wellbeing".