Boston engineering firm fined after workers exposed to cancer-causing fumes

Boston engineering firm fined for failing to keep workers safe from cancer-causing fumes.
Boston engineering firm fined for failing to keep workers safe from cancer-causing fumes. Credit: HSE

A Lincolnshire-based engineering firm has been fined after failing to protect workers from carcinogenic fumes.

Inspectors with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found employees at W.S. Barrett and Son Limited’s site, on the Riverside Industrial Estate in Boston, were being potentially exposed to welding fume and dusts from powder coating.

Welding fume is carcinogenic and can cause other serious illnesses such as occupational asthma. Exposure to coating powders can also cause occupational asthma and skin irritation.

An inspection on 25 March 2022 found that an on-tool extraction system on the welding tools was in a poor state of repair and that local exhaust ventilation systems, provided to capture hazardous substances, had not been thoroughly examined and tested.

A subsequent HSE investigation found the firm had failed to ensure examination and testing of the same equipment.

The company had previously been warned about its ventilation systems in 2018 and was served with enforcement notices. It was prosecuted when it failed to comply.

W.S. Barrett & Son Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(1) and Regulation 9(2) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,625.20 in costs at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on 22 November 2023.

HSE inspector Stacey Gamwell said: "This case highlights the importance of regular maintenance and inspection of control measures including local exhaust ventilation, to ensure equipment remains in an efficient state, in efficient working order, in good repair and in a clean condition."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.