Risk of dermatitis sufficient for prosecution

Company failed to implement controls and surveillance required by COSHH

An engineering company has been fined for failing to control the risk of employees developing dermatitis following exposure to metalworking fluid.

West Hampshire Magistrates heard that, between October 2017 and January 2019, employees were exposed to metalworking fluid whilst working on lathes and milling machines at the company site in Lymington, New Forest.

Metalworking fluid is used on the machines to lubricate and cool work pieces. The fluid is classed as a substance hazardous to health.

Exposure to metalworking fluid can lead to the development of dermatitis and asthma and can have serious, life-changing health effects.

Suitable overalls, gloves and effective skin care regime absent

HSE investigators found the company failed to ensure adequate measures were in place for the control of exposure to metalworking fluids, exposing their employees to the risk of contracting dermatitis.

  • Lymington Precision Engineers Co. Limited – of Rickmansworth pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,447.46.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Nicola Pinckney said:

“This case could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing correct control measures and appropriate working practices.

Appropriate controls could include provision and use of well-fitting overalls, use of gloves in contact with contaminated work pieces, avoidance of the use of airlines for cleaning activities, and the provision of an effective skin care regime.

Control of exposure to hazardous substances is a legal requirement on employers and HSE provides guidance on how control can be achieved.