Stained glass company owner fined following worker's lead poisoning

A stained glass firm's sole owner was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after failing to protect its workers from the risks of lead exposure, breaching workplace law and leading to significant lead poisoning.

On 6th February, Lincoln Magistrates' Court fined Lincolnshire Stained Glass' sole owner 59-year-old David Sear of Theddlethorpe £18,000 with costs of an additional £18,000 after he admitted breaching the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002, Regulation 6 (1) by failing to control workers' lead exposure between January 16th 2010 and October 13th 2011. This workplace law calls for employers to either prevent employees from being exposed to lead or to control levels of exposure when total prevention is not "reasonably practicable".

This case related to workplace injuries suffered by David Doherty, a former worker for the firm who is now 26. He had been restoring windows for the company using techniques such as wire wooling, wire brushing and soldering for five years, and had began to feel unwell for a number of these years.

Complaining of tiredness, nausea, frequent infections, depression, a loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and general feelings of malaise, Mr Doherty was one day in a local surgery when a practice nurse asked him where he worked and noticed his health problems could be due to lead poisoning.
In October 2011, it was found that levels of lead in his blood were seven times normal levels. As a result of this workplace injury, Mr Doherty required hospital treatment for over 12 years. He has been unable to work since developing the condition, and has now had to leave Lincolnshire and move back with his family in the Lancashire area.

Mr Sear had been told that he needed to protect workers from lead in 2005, but he had failed to do so, with HSE investigators discovering that workers were not provided with masks while soldering and that adequate dust extraction systems were not in place. Although there were dust masks available, they had not been properly fitted, training and instruction was inadequate and workers had not been properly informed of the dangers of lead poisoning.

Some members of staff were only provided with disposable overalls or aprons and would go home wearing clothing that was contaminated with lead. Instead, they should have been provided with changing areas and their overalls should have been cleaned on-site.

Lead poisoning is a potentially very serious condition, and can cause permanent mental problems and death. Mr Doherty said that the experience ruined his life. He revealed he would get angry with people all the time, and that his personality changed due to the workplace injury.
Despite the dangers he was put in, he said the first he heard about how to work safely with lead was when the HSE took a statement from him.

Fortunately, he said the treatment he is receiving appears to be working, and that he is thinking of going to college and perhaps starting his own business in the future.

Clearwater Solicitors can help you receive professional legal services. We have years of experience in the fields of accident at work compensation, crime, immigration and Personal Injury cash advance solicitors.

Geek, H. 2014, Stained glass company owner fined following worker's lead poisoning.

Tags: Accident At Work, Personal Injury,

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