Letchworth flooring company fined £500,000 after death of floor layer

PUBLISHED: 12:02 31 May 2019

Altro has been fined £500,000 for a health and safety breach which was found to result in the death of a floor layer in Mitcham. Picture: Google

Altro has been fined £500,000 for a health and safety breach which was found to result in the death of a floor layer in Mitcham. Picture: Google

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A Letchworth flooring company has been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay more than £34,000 in costs following the death of a floor layer in London.

Altro Ltd, based in Works Road, pleaded guilty to a breach under Section 6 (4) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, after floor layer Paul Tilcock was found dead on the bathroom floor of a house in Mitcham in September 2015.

The adhesive used to fix the floor had been supplied by Altro, and contained a large amount of the toxic substance, dichloromethane.

Altro was one of two companies facing charges, with T Brown Group Ltd also pleading guilty to a breach under Section 2 (1) of the same Act.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that Altro did not "ensure so far as reasonably practicable that the product supplied was safe to use at all times".

It also found that T Brown Group Ltd, based in Surrey, had not implemented any systems or procedures adequately to control the risks to its employees from working in an enclosed space with dichloromethane - a substance known to be hazardous to health.

The decision on whether to wear respiratory protection (face masks), or on what type of respiratory protection should be used, was left up to employees.

A spokesman from Altro told the Comet: "Everyone at Altro was distressed and saddened by the news of the tragic death of Mr Tilcock.

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"We deeply regret this accident and the profound effect that his loss has had upon his family and friends.

"Altro is a family-owned business that has always prided itself upon being responsible, conscientious and a safety-conscious organisation. The news of Mr Tilcock's death was therefore a great shock to us all.

"As soon as we learned of Mr Tilcock's death, we promptly suspended all sales of Altrofix 25NF and no longer sell the product.

"Since this incident we have undertaken a full safety review of our entire range of products. We have engaged an external consultant to review all of our existing safety data sheets and our technical department undertakes monthly and annual audits of that documentation.

"Customers are provided with extra information as to the safe us of chemicals on the technical data sheets and with our product installation guides."

T Brown Group Ltd was fined £250,000 and order pay full costs of £23,936.

Altro was fined £500,000 and will pay costs of £34,773.

The investigation found that when Mr Tilcock's body was discovered he was wearing a completely ineffectual face mask.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Collingwood said: "This tragic incident which has had a devastating effect on a young family was wholly avoidable.

"It is important that companies have an appreciation of their duties - whether to its employees or its customers - and have effective systems and procedures in place to ensure that those duties are fulfilled."

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