Occupational Hygiene Provider fined by HSE

Outsource Safety LtdSafety newsOccupational Hygiene Provider fined by HSE
July 27, 2023 Posted by Roger Hart

We offer a range of services which are classed as occupational hygiene.  This term is not often used and is often misunderstood even by those who are working to improve the health and safety of workers.  This is the reason that these safety professionals rely on outside competent help to assist them when it comes to chemical exposures and monitoring the effectiveness of their controls from spray booths to simple PPE.Occupational Hygiene

We have, without fail, only met other providers who are professional and serious about their role in assisting others but there will be occasions where gaps are found and mistakes are made.  We feel sure that the business named below has high standards but it did fail in this case.

The learning point is to develop a good understanding of what you require and to work repeatedly with a provider who you know and trust to carry out your Occupational Hygiene programme.  Interpretation of the data is key and there can be times when the knowledge of the onsite staff working within the business is the key determining factor in getting the job done right.  We have often visited workplaces where isocyanate exposures are poorly understood and data is scant, often being limited to a simple yes/ no rating of OK or not OK.  Delving a little deeper allows you to gain knowledge which can be very helpful but will require more time and effort on the part of all concerned.

An example would be providing enough data so that a client can be updated if an exposure is higher than the last sample, is this trending upwards?  If so what might be the cause of this?  Higher throughput?  A change in supplier perhaps?  Maintenance issues with the control from LEV or similar?  Changes in the air supply such as ‘dirty air’ feeding back into the compressors providing ‘breathing air’?

When all is said and done we are all here to ensure the safety of these workers and must work together to achieve this goal.  If you have occupational exposure monitoring or biological monitoring in place make sure you have sufficient understanding of it to interpret the basics of what you are being supplied with.  Ask for the results and a brief explanation of them.  Speak to the person onsite carrying out the work and see if they can explain what they are doing and why, and then ask them why they are not sampling other areas or personnel.  In short, be satisfied that you have the right people doing the job as far as you can and take an interest in this more technical assessment of safety in your workplace, you might find it as interesting as we do! 

If you would like to know more about occupational hygiene, solvent exposure sampling, welding fume exposure monitoring, metal powder exposure for additive manufacture or wood dust exposure in your workshops (plus perhaps a hundred other exposures) please get in touch or ask us to call you back.

HSE Press Release

A Hampshire-based hygiene consultancy firm has been fined £2,000 after its failures put workers at risk of exposure to hazardous substances.

Envirochem Analytical Laboratories Limited provided an occupational hygiene consultancy service to customers across the South of England. The reports provided by Envirochem are used by their customers to make decisions regarding necessary controls to protect their workforce from risks to their health from substances including hazardous chemicals and dusts. However, they provided one customer with a deficient occupational hygiene exposure monitoring report.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the report to be inadequate and did not provide the information necessary regarding the extent of exposure to hazardous substances, including isocyanates from paint spraying, a potent respiratory sensitiser. The report used inappropriate occupational hygiene monitoring and analysis methods and consequently under-reported the actual exposures at the customers premises.

Portsmouth Magistrates Court heard the services the company provided included the provision of reports, following testing carried out by their consultants at customer premises.

Envirochem Analytical Laboratories Limited, of The Gardens, Broadcut, Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £6,583 in costs at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 23 May 2023.

HSE inspector Nicola Pinckney said: “This was a case of the company failing to provide the specialist services which its customer expected. Consultancies providing specialist services have a responsibility to ensure they are competent to undertake this type of work, undertake the work to the correct standards and provide accurate reports. They need to provide the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to their employees undertaking this work to enable them to provide this specialist service.

“I would urge those wanting to appoint occupational hygiene specialists to check with the relevant professional body, such as the British Occupational Hygiene Society, as to whether those offering consultancy services are competent to do so.”

Hampshire hygiene consultancy firm fined after admitting failures