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October 15, 2013

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Inadequate PPE left employees exposed to hazardous chemical


An agricultural machinery manufacturer has been fined after an HSE investigation found employees were at risk of developing asthma through the spraying of a hazardous chemical.
Grantham Magistrates’ Court heard on 14 October that Marston Agricultural Services Ltd allowed trailers to be sprayed with isocyanate-containing paint, without fully assessing the potential dangers and implementing adequate controls to protect workers from the effects of the chemical.
The failings came to light following an unannounced HSE visit to the company at Toll Bar Road in Marston on 20 June 2011.
Inspectors found that the paint was being sprayed in large quantities, and that the respiratory protective equipment and spray booths were not being used correctly.
The court heart that although staff were provided with personal protective equipment, the overalls were ripped and the gloves were unsuitable for preventing chemicals to break through and infiltrate clothing and skin. 
In addition, the inspectors found that the spray booths had not been maintained properly; they were being used with the doors open and parts of the trailers were protruding into the workshop, meaning there was potential for significant exposure.
The hygiene facilities provided for staff were found to be in an extremely unhygienic condition, so much so, that employees were reluctant to use them. The facilities included an emergency shower that had been broken for years.
Marston Agricultural Services Ltd, of Toll Bar Road, Marston, Grantham, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay a further £13,420 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974. 
Following the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Madeley, said: “Marston Agricultural Services failed to adequately control their employees’ exposure to hazardous chemicals over an extended period of time, despite having repeatedly received advice from the HSE and others on the requirements of the COSHH regulations.
“Breathing in isocyanate paint mist can cause asthma and paint sprayers are about 80 times more likely to get asthma than the average worker. Continued exposure may lead to permanent and severe asthma for which there is no cure. In some cases sufferers also become unable to use common houeshold chemicals such as cleaning materials and shampoo. Almost certainly the sufferer would have to give up their current job.”

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