Work-related illness news - Firm fined after paint caused illness

An agency worker, who was not protected from exposure to isocyanate while repainting joints along a raised gas pipeline, may now be able to make a case for receiving workplace injury compensation since the company for which he was working was fined for breaches of health and safety rules.

The 48-year-old Exeter man was employed by Laing O'Rourke Utilities Ltd on a job in Devon during which he used an open-cabbed vehicle with an attached sprayer to spray the hazardous paint, resulting in him being exposed to the chemical.

When the man's face began to feel sore, he complained to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted the firm for failing to protect him. At Torquay Magistrates Court, it was fined £4,000 with £15, 062 in costs for lack of control of dangerous chemicals.

The victim is continuing to receive treatment from a dermatologist for his skin problems. According to the HSE, isocyanate is the second largest cause of occupational asthma in the UK and can be responsible for conjunctivitis, dermatitis, bronchitis and rhinitis.

An HSE inspector involved in the case said, "Isocyanate is subject to workplace exposure limits because of its ability to damage workers' health. The company was required by law to ensure those at risk of exposure were adequately protected yet it clearly failed to do so by failing to provide a safe system of work.

"Although the type of work meant there was no alternative to the type of paint being used, it could have been applied with a brush, instead of by spraygun."

The victim of the work-related illness can now seek advice from a personal injury solicitor about the possibility of receiving damages for his suffering and possible loss of earnings.


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