Boss fined over lead poisoning

Fined: The case was heard at Lincoln Magistrates' Court
Fined: The case was heard at Lincoln Magistrates' Court
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The owner of a stained glass business has been ordered to pay £36,000 in fines and costs after an employee from Lancaster suffered severe lead poisoning.

Doctors found David Doherty had seven times the normal amount of lead in his blood after five years of restoring windows.

Lincolnshire Stained Glass owner David Sear, 59, from Theddlethorpe, admitted failing to control the risk from lead exposure at Lincoln Magistrates Court.

He was fined and ordered to pay £36,000 in total.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr Sear’s six workers had not worn protective overalls or masks and had not been advised on the risks and symptoms of lead poisoning.

Mr Doherty said he had suffered from nausea, infections and a lost appetite for a number of years before he was eventually diagnosed in 2011.

After the hearing, the 26-year-old, said the “whole experience has ruined my life”.

“The first I knew anything about working safely with lead was when the Health and Safety Executive took my statement.

“I had no training and didn’t take any certificates in working with lead – I even used to go home in the clothes I’d been working in.”

He added that treatment for the poisoning had begun to work and he hoped to return to work soon.

HSE inspector Lorraine Nicholls said Sear was “the owner of a specialist business that has been operating for some 30 years [and] had no excuse for turning a blind eye to the known risks”.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court was told that Mr Doherty had been ill for a number of years before his diagnosis in October 2011.

He had complained of nausea, feeling unwell and tired, and had suffered with frequent infections. He lost his appetite, was unable to sleep and felt depressed.

It was only on a visit to his local surgery after contracting another infection that the practice nurse asked where he worked and realised his illness could be lead poisoning.

Mr Doherty, now 26, has been undergoing hospital treatment for over a year and has had to leave Lincolnshire and return to live with his family in Lancaster as he has been unable to work since the diagnosis. A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that David Sear, sole owner of Lincolnshire Stained Glass, failed to provide controls to protect his six workers from lead poisoning.

He had been told of the requirement to do so in 2005 when blood tests carried out on the advice of HSE showed workers were at significant risk of lead poisoning but he failed to act on this.

HSE’s investigation also found there were no suitable dust extraction systems in place and that workers were not using masks when soldering, putting them at risk from lead fumes.

Dust masks were provided for some activities but no-one at the company had been face-fitted for their respiratory protective equipment to ensure that it was suitable.