Styrene vapour required control by extraction and RPE

A Tyneside firm has been prosecuted over the lack of controls regarding the use of the hazardous substance styrene during the production of fibre glass door and window canopies.

Styrene exposure can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs and neurological effect including difficulty in concentrating, drowsiness, headaches and nausea. An extraction system should have been in place to remove the fume and RPE provided with the correct filters to prevent operators breathing in the substance.

Health at risk for almost 2 years

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Fiona McGarry said:

“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 HSE is sympathetic to the pressures faced by small businesses, this is simply not acceptable.”