Cambridge factory to pay £11k after worker developed life-long illness | The Royston Crow | 25 July 2013

July 25, 2013

From the The Royston Crow, 25 July 2013 (Story by Lucy Ross-Millar).

A paint shop supervisor who developed a life-long chronic illness after being exposed to high levels of chemicals in a Cambridge factory, has finally won compensation.

Six months after a new degreasing tank was installed, Adam Coventon, from Royston, developed myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), including breathing difficulties, chronic shakes and fatigue, after being exposed to the chemical, trichloroethylene.

His employer, Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd, of Wilbraham Road, Fulbourn, has been fined £9,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,852 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

The tank, used to clean scientific instruments, didn’t seal properly allowing trichloroethylene to leak into the poorly-ventilated room where Mr Coventon worked alone.

No warning of the hazard and no protective equipment was given to Mr Coventon, who worked at the factory for five years.

Corrina Mottram of Thompsons Solicitors, who represented the victim, said: “This should never have happened.

“Given this was a company used to dealing with dangerous chemicals who should have known of the risks and the strict rules surrounding their use, this level of chemical exposure was almost unprecedented.

“The injuries which Adam has suffered are extremely life-limiting.

“The employers tried to distance themselves from Adam’s illness arguing that it was not connected with the exposure, our medical evidence showed they were wrong.”

Mr Coventon has not been able to return to work since his diagnosis and the severity of his symptoms limit him in everyday tasks.

Four years after the chemical exposure, he takes daily medication to help manage his muscle spasms and control the pain.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Prior Scientific Instruments did not provide suitable equipment to adequately remove the hazardous fumes from the workplace.

Keith Whiting, trading as KW Consultants of West Street, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, who had been employed by the factory as a health and safety consultant was fined £1,500 with costs of £1,000 after also pleading guilty to Health and Safety at Work Act breaches.

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