Three breaches of COSHH led to life changing condition

A company has been fined £27,500 and ordered to pay costs of £10,700, at Southampton Crown Court, after pleading guilty to to three breaches of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (as amended) 2002.

Prysmian Cables and Systems Limited had pleaded guilty to charges 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.

This resulted in one employee suffering from severe dermatitis, which the court heard had a huge impact on his life – he was required to take retirement on medical grounds and his future employment prospects are now limited.

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 ‘bit of a rash’ which can be ignored but a painful, debilitating and as this case proves, a life-changing condition which can be easily 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.”