Garden centre fined £100,000 in hazardous chemicals case

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A garden centre that failed to protect staff from hazardous chemicals has been fined more than £100,000.

A member of staff developed breathing difficulties after clearing up a spilt garden chemical in April 2017.

The incident was investigated after the worker complained to Colchester Council environmental health officers later that year.

Perrywood had a health and safety policy and arrangements in place, but these had not been reviewed nor updated to reflect changes in the directorship of the company, Basildon Magistrates Court was told.

Magistrates heard how the company had failed to implement the safety management system described in its own policy manual.

Although annual audits were conducted by a health and safety consultancy, Perrywood management had not implemented the recommendations of its most recent report, dated January 2017.

This included a requirement to undertake COSHH assessments for chemical products on sale as well as additional risk assessments.

Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries Ltd, near Tiptree, Essex, admitted three safety offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £104,000 with costs of £3,691.

Magistrates took into account the company’s turnover, lack of previous convictions and the efforts to correct the shortfalls in the health and safety aspects of the business.

Councillor Tina Bourne, of Colchester Borough Council, said: “I hope this case serves as a reminder that we take a dim view of any business that fails to put safety first and whose actions or inaction leads to personal injury.”

EP Risk Consultancy offers training in dealing with hazardous chemicals and other harmful substances. We also offer COSHH assessments.

Our chemical safety – COSHH – training course equips workers with an understanding of how substances can harm health. Course members come away with a greater understanding of practical control measures and safe working systems.