Textile company fined after worker exposed to chemicals

Textile company fined after worker exposed to chemicals 25564

A former textile employee could be granted compensation after he was exposed to chemicals over a long period of time.

The man was employed at Gainsborough Silk Weaving in Sudbury as dye house manager from 1993 to 2012, but has suffered with chronic breathing difficulties since 2008.

Because of the severity of his work related illness, the 57-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, had to be hospitalised on several occasions and was prescribed a cocktail of medication in order to suppress his symptoms.

Since he stopped working for the firm, there has been a significant improvement in his condition and this has been put down to no longer coming into daily contact with chemicals.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered there were a series of safety failings at the site, including not properly assessing the health risks arising from working with hazardous reactive dyes.

Staff had also not been given the required training on how to look after themselves while dealing with harmful chemicals. According to the HSE, if the health surveillance programme had not been halted in 2004, the man's condition may not have been so severe.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Kneebone said: "Gainsborough Silk Weaving fell well short of [its] responsibilities over a protracted time period. [It] neglected to assess the very real health risks involved and take the measures necessary to minimise those risks.

"The company should have installed suitable ventilation equipment for weighing and mixing the dyes. They should also have provided proper information, instruction, training and health surveillance for their employees."

He added employees were placed in significant risk of contracting respiratory illnesses as a result of Gainsborough Silk Weaving's attitude on safety.

The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs over three years after pleading guilty of breaching regulations 6(1), 7, 11 and 12 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.