HSE prosecutes company that fails to provide suitable and sufficient health and safety information to agency worker

HSE prosecutes company that fails to provide suitable and sufficient health and safety information to agency worker
25th Mar 2011

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released details this month (March 2011) of a company that has been fined after three workers were taken to hospital following a chemical incident at a Spalding vegetable grower and supplier.

 

Spalding Magistrates' Court heard that on 11 September 2009, a Latvian agency worker at Emmett UK Ltd was cleaning food processing machinery when he accidentally mixed two cleaning chemicals which reacted together to produce a toxic gas. The factory was evacuated and three workers were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties, although all were back at work within days.

The HSE, which brought the prosecution against Emmett UK Ltd, found that the company had failed to provide suitable and sufficient information and instruction to the agency worker about the risks from the incorrect use of chemicals.

HSE inspector Jo Anderson said:

"This incident was entirely preventable had the company ensured that all agency workers were given adequate information, instruction and training. Our investigation also showed that there was almost no consideration given to the fact that some of the workers spoke very little English. As a direct result, three workers were taken to hospital for treatment and were lucky not to be more seriously harmed."

Europeople’s Managing Director said:

“This is another example where a company has failed to understand or act on the fact that it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all health and safety procedures are understood by its workforce, whether agency or permanent.

“It can often be appropriate to translate health and safety materials into a worker’s first language, and that is something that Europeople is often asked to help with. The fine in this instance was not too heavy and the workers recovered, but that’s not always the case and as an employer, it’s just not worth taking the risk. If any of our customers would like more advice on how ensure your health and safety training is effective for agency workers, please feel free to call me or log on to www.hse.gov.uk

Emmett UK Ltd pleaded guilty to contravening Regulation 12 (1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and was fined £8,500 at Spalding Magistrates' Court. It was also ordered to pay full costs of £2,478.

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