Company director sentenced after exposing employees to hazardous substances

A company director is to serve time in prison for not preventing his employees from being exposed to hazardous substances in the workplace.

An agricultural trailer manufacturer has been fined and its director sentenced to prison for deliberately exposing employees to hazardous substances, subsequently putting them at risk of developing severe lung diseases.

Preston Crown Court heard how, Mr H, former managing director of the company, exposed his employees to hazardous substances in the workplace and took actions to deliberately hide unsafe work practices from Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigations.

An inspection by the HSE found that employees regularly used aerosolized paints containing hazardous isocyanates and solvents to spray trailers, without being sufficient control measures being in place, such as adequate/suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE). Isocyanates, when breathed in, can cause short term problems such as dizziness and fatigue, as well as long-term conditions including occupational asthma, liver damage and even lung cancer.

Mr H pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 37 and 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months with 20 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay costs of £5428.21.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Leona Cameron said:
“H was well aware of the unsafe conditions that his employees were being subjected to whilst at work.
“The effect of being exposed to these substances has resulted in at least one former employee developing a life changing condition, which could easily have been prevented if proper controls had been in place, such as suitable extraction and respiratory protective equipment.”



Respiratory hazards in the workplace, when not taken seriously, can have dire effects. In fact, the HSE report that occupational lung diseases account for around 12,000 of the 13,000 total deaths estimated to be linked to past exposures at work.

If there is any danger of your workforce being exposed to respiratory hazards in the workforce, ensure sufficient control methods are in place to minimise the risk.

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) can be an effective means of preventing harmful substances from being breathed in by your workforce. However, RPE must be adequate and suitable to work effectively.

For more information on the effective use of RPE, get in touch with our RPE Experts on 01933 672180 | info@fullsupporthealthcare.com