Company fined for exposing worker to risk of developing occupational asthma
Published: 21 Feb 2020

A car retailer based in the South East of England has been fined after a car bodywork sprayer developed occupational asthma.

West Hampshire Magistrates' Court heard that in October 2011 and March 2018, an employee of Harwoods Limited at Audi Southampton, had been spraying, using paints that contained isocyanates without adequate control measures in place. Isocyanates are classed as substances hazardous to health, exposure to which can lead to the development of asthma which can have serious life-changing effects.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to ensure adequate control measures were in place to minimise exposure to paints containing isocyanates, therefore exposing the employees to the risk of asthma.

Harwoods Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations SI 2002/2677 (COSHH), were fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,657.55.

HSE inspector Nicola Pinckney commented: "This serious health condition could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing correct control measures and appropriate working practices".

"Controlling employee exposure to hazardous substances is a legal requirement on employers and HSE provides guidance on how control can be achieved".

"Appropriate controls could include use of a spray booth to carry out the paint spraying, use of a suitable air-fed respirator, checks to ensure equipment was adequately maintained and training provided to ensure the employee knew the risks and how to control them".