Floor layer dies following exposure to toxic fumes at work
A 30-year old floor layer has died following overexposure to adhesive while laying a bathroom floor in London.
P. Tilcock, who was doing renovations on a house in Mitcham, London, was found deceased on the bathroom floor by the owner of the house. Mr Tilcock had been using a strong adhesive, containing dichloromethane, to fix flooring in the poorly ventilated room.
Dichloromethane is known to be an acute inhalation hazard. Over exposure can cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, loss of consciousness, suffocation and death. Even casual exposure over time has been linked to health complications such as carbon monoxide poisoning, optic neuropathy and pancreatic cancer.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Tilcock’s employer – T Brown Group Ltd – had not put in place any procedures to adequately control the potential risks to its employees from working in enclosed spaces with hazardous substances. It’s respiratory protective equipment (RPE) policy was left up to the employees, with little-to-no guidance.
When discovered, Mr Tilcock was found wearing a completely ineffectual face mask – inappropriate for the respiratory hazard.
The HSE brought the employer to Westminster Magistrate’s Court, where they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and fined £250,000 plus costs.
In addition, the manufacturer of the floor adhesive – Altro Limited – was found to not have ensured that the product supplied was safe to use. They were also taken to court, where they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6 (4) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and fined £500,000 plus costs.
Following the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Collingwood said: “This tragic incident – which has had a devastating effect on a young family – was wholly avoidable. It is important that companies have an appreciation of their duties (whether to its employees or its customers) and have effective systems and procedures in place to ensure that those duties are fulfilled”.
It is vital that any person required to wear RPE in the workplace uses equipment that is adequate for the hazard and suitable for the wearer. If tight-fitting RPE is required, then this should be face fit tested to ensure a good seal can be achieved.
Full Support provide comprehensive RPE solutions, fit testing services and fit2fit compliant advice.
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