Expert Comments Following HSE Prosecution
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution in relation to an incident which has left a West Yorkshire worker with a life-changing condition highlights why all employers need to consider safety, according to an industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell.
Richard Sharp from Wetherby was exposed to ozone gas while servicing a UV light system in a plant room at Cott Beverages in Kegworth in July 2010.
Exposure to the gas resulted in the 49-year-old developing acute irritant asthma, a condition which has left him unable to return to work and affected his ability to do day-to-day tasks due to high sensitivity to chemicals and smells.
An investigation into the incident by the HSE revealed Cott Beverages failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment in relation to the ozone generating equipment, while there was also a failure to implement a safe system of work for servicing equipment. Other issues included staff not being adequately trained to safely issue work permits.
Mark Allen, an industrial illness specialist at Irwin Mitchell, has vast expertise helping those who have developed long-term health conditions as a result of exposure to harmful chemicals and gases to gain justice over the problems they endure.
Commenting on this case, he outlined: “As this case demonstrates, employers simply cannot underestimate the huge impact that exposure to harmful materials and substances can have on workers.
“We have also acted in a number of cases when people have been left with serious illnesses as a result of problems which should have been avoided through the use of best practice and following the proper safety guidance.
“The issues flagged in this case, such as risk assessments and training, are huge part of maintaining high standards of safety and we would urge all employers to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities.
“Too many lives are ruined by safety failings and it is vital that lessons are learned to prevent further issues in the future.”