Chemical company fined after exposing workers to harmful substances

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A chemical footprint - workers were exposed to harmful substances that caused skin damage
A chemical footprint at Fine Organics Ltd. Image: HSE.

A chemical company has been fined £224,000 after exposing workers to harmful substances that caused long-term skin damage.

For more than three years, employees were regularly exposed to chemicals that posed a health risk at Fine Organics Ltd – now trading as Lianhetec – of Teesside.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard how workers suffered rashes and, in some cases, were unable to continue working at the site.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Fine Organics Ltd had multiple failings in their handling of harmful substances.

It said the company:

  • Failed to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment
  • Failed to prevent the release of hazardous substances
  • Failed to prevent spread of contamination
  • Failed to properly decontaminate
  • Failed to have in place an effective system of health surveillance

Fine Organics Ltd admitted breaching 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was ordered to pay costs of £17,098 on top of the fine.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Julian Nettleton said: “This was a case where the company failed to assess the risk and failed to implement appropriate control measures to manage the risk of exposure to these chemicals.

“If this had been done, then workers would not have been exposed to the chemicals and suffered harm as a result.”

Nigel Parkinson, the firm’s managing director, said: “We take the safety and occupational health of our employees extremely seriously.

“We have invested in improving our Occupational Health provision, achieving ISO 18001, and improving our equipment and processes. Our new owners understand they must carry the cost for actions that were taken prior to their ownership but this has not lessened their commitment to Fine Organics.”

EP Risk conducts assessments for working activities that pose a risk to anyone within a business: Read our Five Steps to Safety.