Fenland health and safety consultant fined after man becomes ill through exposure to chemicals at work

Health and Safety Executive.

Health and Safety Executive. - Credit: Archant

A FENLAND health and safety consultant has been fined for failing to spot potential dangers at a factory where a worker became chronically ill through inhaling high levels of chemicals.

Keith Whiting, trading as KW Consultants of Chatteris, was a consultant for seven years for a blue chip Cambridge firm where the worker developed long term health problems after working in a poorly ventilated work space.

Mr Whiting, of West Street, was not suitably qualified for the work which he undertook, according to investigators working on the case.

He pleaded guilty to Health and Safety at Work Act breaches and was fined £1,500 with costs of £1,000.

The West Street businessman was the health and safety consultant for Prior Scientific Instruments, which designs and manufactures scientific instruments for clients across the world.

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After the hearing HSE Inspector Robert Meardon said the firm: “Failed to ensure the health of its employees because it employed the wrong person to give it health and safety advice.

“Mr Whiting’s background was in quality control and he did not have adequate knowledge of health and safety for the work going on in this company. “He failed to make them aware of the do’s and don’ts, regarding the use of hazardous chemicals.”

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Paint sprayer Adam Coventon, 36, of Royston, suffered eye,ye irritation, breathing difficulties, headaches and lost the ability to concentrate after working with harmful substances at the Fulbourn factory.

He is no longer able to work.

His partner, who asked to not be named, said the experience had changed their lives.

“We have to constantly plan around Adam’s symptoms. We all just wish that his remaining symptoms would go so that he can once again be fit and strong,” she said.

“This case highlights the need for companies to monitor and control chemicals they use so they do not wreck peoples lives in the way that ours has been.”

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Coventon’s prepared and painted small components for scientific instruments.

It involved working with chemicals including trichloroethylene, a powerful de-greaser used to clean metal before it is painted, and paints containing isocyanates.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the firm did not provide suitable equipment to adequately remove the hazardous fumes from the workplace.

It also found the company failed to provide employees with health surveillance for workers using hazardous substances.

Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd, of Wilbraham Road, Fulbourn, Cambridge, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,852 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

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