No Hot Water for North Devon Workers

Employees at a North Devon decorating supplies firm were not provided with hot water to wash their hands for years, despite being at risk of contracting the skin condition dermatitis.

Mike Wye and Associates Ltd, who produce natural building and decorating products, failed to provide hot water over a period of four years despite workers using hydrated lime for the manufacture of lime putty.

Hydrated lime is a well-known irritant to both skin and eyes and can cause dermatitis.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told Barnstaple Magistrates running water was provided at the Buckland Filleigh Sawmills site, but this froze in the winter.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, said:

"The provision of hot running water is one of the most basic rights for workers, especially when they are dealing with materials that could cause skin disease.

"Although the company provided cold water and gel this did not encourage workers to wash their hands."

Mike Wye and Associates Ltd of The Strand, Barnstaple, pleaded guilty to three contraventions of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and were fined a total of £3,500 with £588 costs.

Dermatitis is a skin condition caused by contact with something that irritates the skin or causes an allergic reaction. It usually occurs where the irritant touches the skin, but not always. Someone who has dermatitis may experience symptoms of itching and pain. The signs and symptoms of this condition can be so bad that the sufferer is unable to carry on at work.

Further information on how to reduce the risk of contracting dermatitis can be found on the HSE website at: