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Safety breaches cost blade company nearly £500,000

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - 14:28

BREACHES of health and safety regulations cost Vestas Blades nearly £500,000, a court was told.
The Newport turbine blademaker, which is set to close, was fined a maximum £10,000 by Island magistrates and told to pay £25,000 of the Health and Safety Executive’s costs.
The court heard the company had also spent £400,000 to stop it happening again and substantial legal bills and costs, associated with the two-and-a-half year HSE investigation.
After Tuesday’s case, the HSE emphasised the importance of effectively preventing exposure to hazardous substances after 13 employees suffered dermatitis after exposure to epoxy resin between 2005 and 2007.
HSE inspector Roger Upfold said: "Dermatitis is not a trivial condition. Epoxy resins are hazardous substances with well-known ill-health effects."Skin contact with this type of substance can result in an allergic reaction, with serious long term consequences. People who become sensitised to this type of substance may not be able to ever work again with the substance without experiencing serious ill-health effects.
"Symptoms included severe itching and swellings and rashes on their arms, wrists, hands and face, with the effects sometimes lasting for days. As a result some had to stop working for Vestas Blades UK Ltd."
He told the court the 13 included Nicola Wiltshire, Laurence Rose and John Brodie.
Employees suffered as a result of being allowed to use protective equipment wrongly and having safety glasses that did not protect all the face, through processing methods that did not minimise risk and through inadequate risk assessment, he said.
"The company was aware but failed to act properly on the reports of ill-health," said Mr Upfold.
For Vestas, which admitted the two breaches, Kate Brunner outlined the cost to Vestas of putting effective measures in place.
"That shows just how seriously the HSE advice was taken.
"Now, the company is literally going to blow away in the wind," she said.

Reporter: [email protected]

 


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