Company fined after failing to protect their worker against life-altering allergy

News Article

After an employee developed an allergic form of dermatitis after coming into contact with metalworking fluids, its employer, an automotive company, has been sentenced.

On 24 April 2019, at a manufacturing site in Thatcham, this employee at Xtrac Ltd was splashed on the face and upper body with metalworking fluid while cleaning a grinding machine.

Due to this contact, the employee suffered an allergic reaction which consisted of a painful burning sensation, inflamed, broken and oozing skin, and subsequently diagnosed with permanent allergic contact dermatitis. Even smaller quantities of contact with this substance can cause a further damaging reaction.

As a result of this incident, medical advisors told the employee they could no longer work in their role as it was a risk to their health.

As Xtrac Ltd of Gables Way, Kennet Park, Thatcham, failed to carry out sufficient risk assessments to identify the potential exposure to the hazardous chemical and implement controls to prevent the incident, they pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £639.59, as the company were already aware the employee had a history of dermatitis.

Jeremy Sirrell, a Partner at Palmers and a Health and Safety expert, said: “The failure to carry out the necessary risk assessment for this task and to ensure the employee had the required protective gear to protect themselves from their allergy, led to this avoidable and life-altering incident.

“If you have encountered a similar incident, it is vital that you seek specialist advice at the earliest convenience.”

For help and guidance on all aspects of Health and Safety Law, be that advice on a potential health and safety investigation or prosecution, please contact our expert team today.