The owner of an alloy firm has been given a suspended jail sentence for failing to protect his workers from the risk of lead poisoning after three of them became seriously ill.
Nottingham Crown Court heard one of LDB Light Alloys Ltd’s employees, 28-year-old Brook Northey, was hospitalised for three weeks and needed
specialist treatment at the West Midlands Poisons Unit after working with molten lead.
Laurence Dennis Brown, who owns the Nottinghamshire firm, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Mr Brown, 65, of Lime Grove, Forest Hill, Mansfield, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and fined £45,000 with £35,000 costs.
He was told by His Honour Judge Dickinson, “It would take the skill of Charles Dickens to adequately describe the conditions in which your staff worked.”
The court heard that Mr Northey of Mansfield and two colleagues were making sheeting from molten lead at the factory.
Mr Northey had to receive treatment for more than a year after being hospitalised in May 2011. He was unable to work for 12 months and has been told to never work with lead again.
Before being diagnosed with lead poisoning Mr Northey had been admitted with renal problems, the court was told.
Workers not told of lead effects
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it had served a prohibition notice requiring all work to be immediately halted following a subsequent investigation.
Its inspectors found the firm provided no air monitoring or medical surveillance and deemed its extraction systems, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, hygiene and rest facilities to all be unsatisfactory.
Employees did not remove their work clothes before eating and drinking and were not told about the effects of lead or how to recognise the symptoms of being over-exposed to it, the court heard.
Following the case HSE inspector Judith Sinnott said over-exposure to lead could have “significant” short and long-term effects on workers.
He added, “Anyone working with lead must put systems in place to control the risks.”
Accident Advice Helpline has personal injury solicitors that can handle employees’ industrial diseases claims. To discuss your potential claim with a member of their expert team dial 0800 689 0500 now.
Source: Nottingham Post
Date Published: February 6, 2014
Author: David Brown