South Shields firm fined over hazardous substance use

A manufacturer based in South Shields has been fined for health and safety failures relating to the use of styrene.

Styrene is a hazardous substance, which can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs, as well as drowsiness, headaches and nausea. However, after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) between May 2013 and February 2015 at Templetown Canopies, the company was served with an improvement notice over its use of the substance while manufacturing fibreglass door and window canopies.

The company subsequently ignored the improvement notice, which was served after the HSE determined that Templetown Canopies was not controlling its employee’s exposure to styrene. Measures that were not implemented in eluded extraction systems and masks for employees.

The safety of your employees should be a high priority for any company. However, to further protect your business against the costs that can be incurred by any accidental injuries to those in your employ, you are legally required to take out long-term employers' liability insurance.

Representatives of Templetown Canopies appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to plead guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations of 2002. The South Shields company was fined £8,500 and told to pay court costs of £4,500.

Fiona McGarry, an inspector with the HSE, commented on the case after the hearing: “Workers’ health was put at risk from exposure to styrene for a period of 22 months, even after the company had been made aware of the actions it needed to take.

“Whilst the HSE is sympathetic to the pressures faced by small businesses, this is simply not acceptable. Employers need to take action to ensure they are providing adequate control to protect the health of their employees.”