Abel (UK) Ltd sold paint stripper containing dichloromethane and a plant protection product containing sodium chlorate.
Dichloromethane (DCM) which is restricted under the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) regulations. Sodium chlorate is a prohibited substance.
Warwick Crown Court heard that the company also failed to check at the point of sale that the paint stripper containing DCM was either being sold for use in industrial installations or, after October 2016, to appropriately certificated professionals, which is a condition of sale.
Abel (UK) sold the products online. On discovering this, the Health & Safety Executive worked with online platforms to have its advertisements taken down and served enforcement notices to prohibit further supply.
However, the enforcement notices were ignored by Abel (UK). The company was finally dissolved in January 2018.
Abel (UK) Ltd’s director, Nicholas Corbett of Weddington Road, Nuneaton, pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 9 and 18 of the Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011 and regulation 10 of The REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008. He was given a 10-month custodial sentence.
HSE inspector Sarah Dutton said after the hearing: “Chemicals are carefully regulated to protect human health and the environment. Sodium chlorate is not approved for use in weed killers, as a safe level of use was not established for operators. Dichloromethane (DCM) has been restricted in paint strippers due to concerns for human health during its use – it has caused fatalities when not used properly.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will take robust action against those who unnecessarily put the lives of workers and the public at risk, and against those who endanger the environment, through the inappropriate supply and use of chemicals.”