49 year old Richard Sharp, from Wetherby in West Yorkshire, has suffered a life changing condition after being exposed to ozone gas while on the job in a serious health and safety oversight. He was servicing a UK light system in a plant room at Cott Beverages which is a soft drinks manufacturer on Sideley Road.
Sharp was not told that there was ozone gas present in the room and he was overcome by the fumes. This incident caused him to develop acute irritant asthma, which has resulted in him being unable to return to his job. His life has been changed as he now struggles with ordinary activities and situations and has an incredibly high sensitivity to smells and chemicals. If he inhales any sort of chemicals or scents such as exhaust fumes or perfume, it could trigger a severe asthma attack.
The court found that Cott Beverages Ltd was negligent on health and safety matters as it had been aware of the hazards of ozone for quite some time. They had first installed the generating equipment in 2001 to disinfect the liquid which was used in drinks. According to the investigation which was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, the company had failed in their responsibility of carrying out a suitable assessment of the risks of the equipment. They were also found guilty of failing to implement a safe system for keeping the equipment serviced.
In short, the company Cott Beverages had been aware that there had been a leak of ozone in the area and had been aware of the dangers of this. However, they had done nothing to rectify the problem or comply with health and safety standards in order to protect their contractors from the dangers of this gas. As a result, Sharp is now living a very restricted life and is not able to do many of the normal activities which others enjoy as he is constantly in danger of encountering smoke or car fumes.
The company pleaded guilty in the court and was ordered to pay the costs of £11,565 as well as the fine of £20,000.