A York company has been fined more than £16,000 after staff at Scarborough Hospital were left with life-changing medical conditions following exposure to a dangerous substance.
Three members of Scarborough Hospital staff required treatment at the A&E department after being exposed to a substance used to decontaminate the Aspen Ward.
The staff suffered from itchy skin and became lightheaded, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
It said that all three continue to suffer with “life-changing medical conditions” as a result of their exposure and “struggle to carry out day-to-day tasks or work”.
In addition to the £16,775 fine, the company was also ordered to pay £27,228 in costs at York Magistrates’ Court.
Workers at Bio Decontamination Ltd attended Scarborough Hospital on 18 September 2019 after being hired to carry out the decontamination of the Aspen ward.
The company used ionised hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the rooms in the ward and “failed to appropriately seal the rooms, meaning the ionised hydrogen peroxide escaped into the adjacent corridor where hospital staff were working”.
An investigation by the HSE found that the work had not been properly risk assessed prior to being undertaken and that the employees carrying out the work were not appropriately trained nor supervised and the working practices displayed were “below the required standard”.
The level of ionised hydrogen peroxide was not adequately monitored to warn of release, exposing people to dangerous levels, according to HSE investigators.
Couldn’t return to work
HSE inspector Darian Dundas said: “This case recognises the dangers of not carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and not appropriately training and supervising staff members.
“These failures left three members of staff so ill they couldn’t return to work.
“It could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing the correct control measures and safe working practices.”
Bio Decontamination Limited, which has addresses at Micklegate, York, and Usher Lane, Haxby, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Section 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The company was fined £16,775 and ordered to pay £27,228 in costs at York Magistrates’ Court in July 2023.
It is a legal requirement to adequately control exposure to materials that cause ill health and how people can get exposed must be carefully considered, the HSE added.