Two men had to be monitored for months after they breathed in lead dust and fumes during an accident at work, a court was told.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Russell Leggett and Robert Peach inhaled the dust during work to refurbish and reduce the height of the Nab Tower lighthouse in the Solent.
Civil engineering company Bam Nuttall, of Camberley, Surrey, and fabrication firm Four Tees Engineering Ltd, of Fareham, Hampshire, were both fined for exposing workers to lead during the work.
Firm fined £56,000
Bam Nuttall was fined £56,000 with costs of £6,165 after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and two breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Four Tees Engineering Ltd, meanwhile, was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,081 for single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Control of Lead at Work Regulations.
The court heard the men, who both come from Hampshire, inhaled the dust after steel coated in lead paint was cut and removed from the tower in July 2013.
Both needed hospital treatment after tests revealed the amount of lead in their blood far exceeded the levels deemed to be safe. The men underwent intensive treatment and were monitored for months before the amount of lead in their blood returned to safe levels.
Firm knew steel was coated in lead paint
The court heard a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation had found that both companies overlooked suitable control measures which should have been in place when the steel was cut into.
The HSE established that Bam Nuttall knew the steel was coated in lead paint while Four Tees failed to make sure workers had suitable medical surveillance.
It said there was little to stop contamination and the spread of dust containing lead at the site.
The court heard that following the incident workers were given regular medical surveillance and better face masks. Clean and dirty areas were also established at the site off the Isle of Wight to help with decontamination.
Exposure to lead can cause serious and permanent damage to vital organs and nerves.
Accident Advice Helpline can help assess if people are entitled to make a personal injury claim following a workplace incident. Its 24-hour helpline can be contacted on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone.
Date Published: December 17, 2014
Author: David Brown