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Ejector seat maker Martin-Baker receives fine of £800,000 for CoSHH failings

The ejector seat manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and Regulation 6(1) of the Control…

The ejector seat manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and Regulation 6(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).

Aylesbury Crown Court heard that three skilled CNC machine operators developed extrinsic allergic alveolitis (a debilitating lung condition also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis). This was found to have been developed after years of exposure to the mist of working metal fluid. One of the affected workers has been so severely affected, he has virtually become paralysed by the incident.

An investigation by the HSE found that inadequate measures were in place within the factory to stop exposure to workers. Martin Baker Aircraft failed to implement a system that would clean away excess fluid or provide extraction to prevent the build-up of the mist from the engineering processes used frequently in the factory. Failings in the provision of health surveillance were also discovered.

The Uxbridge-based company was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,912.36 for their failings.

Companies need to ensure that they consider all employees’ health just as much as their safety when carrying out risk assessments.

The HSE also are prosecuting Martin-Baker for a breach under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act following the death of Red Arrows pilot Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Sean Cunningham; details of the charge were covered in a previous bulletin. Sentencing remarks on this case will be detailed in the next edition of the bulletin.