A 30-year-old man was found dead after using an adhesive that contained toxic solvents while working on a bathroom floor resulting in a property maintenance firm and a flooring manufacturer being fined a combined £750,000.
The flooring adhesive contained dichloromethane (DCM) as its main component. The chemical poses an inhalation risk and is a restricted substance under the REACH Regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).
The investigation found that the practice was to allow employees to decide what type of respiratory protection to use, or whether to wear any at all. Westminster Magistrates Court was told that when he was found, the employee was wearing a “completely ineffectual” face mask.
The flooring company that supplied the adhesive plead guilty to a breach of Section 6(4) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and were fined £500,000 and costs of £34,773.
The maintenance contractor was found to not have systems or procedures to control risks to employees working in an enclosed space using the adhesive containing DCM. They plead guilty and were fined £250,000 with costs of £23,936
The HSE Inspector stated, “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.”