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    SUPPLIER OF FLOORING ADHESIVE FINED £500,000

    Floor layer died after being overcome by dichloromethane vapour

    A supplier of adhesives and a flooring installation contractor have been fined a total of £750,000 following the death of a workman laying a floor in London in September 2015.

    Westminster Magistrates heard how the body of 30-year-old Paul Tilcock was found by the owner of a house in Mitcham, south London, on the bathroom floor.

    The adhesive he used to fix the flooring contained a large amount of a hazardous substance.

    RPE selection left to employees

    HSE – Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide. HSG53

    HSE investigators found the contractor had not implemented any systems or procedures adequately to control the risks to its employees from working in an enclosed space with a substance known to be hazardous to health, namely dichloromethane (DCM).

    The decision on whether to wear respiratory protection equipment (RPE) or the type of RPE required was “left up to employees”. Mr Tilcock was found wearing ”completely ineffectual RPE”.

    Supplier information inadequate

    The flooring adhesive supplier failed to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the product supplied was safe to use at all times. In particular, the court heard that the defendant:

    1. marketed the product (which contained a large % of DCM) for use in bathrooms, i.e. small spaces;
    2. failed to identify particular risks and to provide sufficient information about the acute risks of DCM; and
    3. failed to send out the updated safety data sheet.

    Instructional videos were provided with no safety measures in place e.g. no mention of ventilation required and no use of PPE or RPE by workers in the videos.

    Duties to employees and customers
    • T Brown Group Ltd – of High Street, Ewell, Surrey pleaded guilty to a breach under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £23,936.
    • Altro Limited – of Works Road, Letchworth, Herts pleaded guilty to a breach under Section 6 (4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £34,773.

    After the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Collingwood said:

    “This tragic incident which has had a devastating effect on a young family was wholly avoidable. It is important that companies have an appreciation of their duties, (whether to its employees or its customers) and have effective systems and procedures in place to ensure that those duties are fulfilled”.

     

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