An Ejector Seat manufacturer from Uxbridge has been fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £36,000 after three of their employees developed allergic alveolitis; a debilitating lung condition.
Also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, the condition is the body’s allergic reaction to breathing in a harmful substance and has symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard how the three workers were frequently exposed to a mist of working metal fluid during their work on the machines at the company. One of the employees has become virtually paralysed by the injuries to his lungs, another can never work with the fluid again due to the sensitivity he has developed, whereas the third has had to have special measures put in place so that he never comes into contact with the substance again.
When the Health and Safety Executive investigated the case, they found that measures taken by the company to minimise the exposure to employees was inadequate, and that the mist created by the machines was breathed in by around 60 of the company’s workers. They had failed to put in place suitable extraction methods for the mist, and had also failed to monitor the health of employees.
Martin Baker Aircraft Company limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 along with breaching Regulation 6(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.
Speaking after the investigation, HSE Inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “Companies need to make sure they consider workers’ health just as much as their safety when carrying out risk assessments. The dangers of breathing in metal working fluid are well known within the industry. In this case one worker has had his health permanently and severely damaged, two others have also been affected, all will have to live with their condition for the rest of their lives.”
If you have been injured or made ill at your workplace you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Companies have a duty to protect the health and safety of their workers, and this includes putting in place procedures to minimise the effects of any substances in the workplace that could be hazardous to health. Contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.