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BELOW PAR H&S CONSULTANT IN DOCK WITH CLIENT

Lack of expertise resulted in exposure to harmful substances  

Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd and KW Consultants (Keith Whiting T/A) have both been prosecuted for risking the health of employees from hazardous chemicals.

Paint sprayer Adam Coventon suffered irritation to his eyes, breathing difficulties, headaches and lost the ability to concentrate after working with harmful substances. He is now no longer able to work.

Cambridge Magistrates heard (10 January) that his work was to prepare and paint components for scientific instruments. The job involved working with chemicals including trichloroethylene and paints containing isocyanates. HSE investigators found that:

  • suitable equipment was not provided to remove the hazardous fumes from the workplace; and
  • failure to provide employees with the necessary health surveillance.

Health surveillance is a key part of ensuring that peoples’ health has not been affected by the chemicals they use at work.

The Court was told that between September 2002 and December 2009 the company employed KW Consultants (Keith Whiting T/A) as a health and safety consultant. However, Mr Whiting did not provide suitable information and advice to enable the company to ensure the health and wellbeing of employees.

Consultant background was in quality not safety

Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd, of Cambridge, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,852 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Keith Whiting, trading as KW Consultants, of Chatteris was fined £1,500 with costs of £1,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the same legislation.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Robert Meardon said:

“Prior Scientific Instruments failed to ensure the health of its employees because it employed the wrong person to give it health and safety advice. Mr. Whiting’s background was in quality control and he did not have adequate knowledge of health and safety for the work going on in this company. He failed to make them aware of the ‘do’s and don’ts’, regarding the use of hazardous chemicals.

In 2010, the Government commissioned Lord Young to review health and safety laws and among the findings, the inquiry recognised that there were a lot of people claiming to be health and safety experts, who were in fact, not. The national register of health and safety consultants has been set up as a result. All the consultants who are registered are members of a recognised professional body, and it is important that firms seeking to use a consultant choose one from the register.”

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