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Jail sentence for company director for sale of illegal products

09 January 2019

After ignoring action and instructions from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a company director has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.

This followed online sales of products relevant to facilities and estate management operations, including a plant protection product containing sodium chlorate and paint stripper that contained dichloromethane.

The former is a prohibited substance and the latter is restricted under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction Chemicals (REACH) legislation.

Since October, paint stripper containing DCM can only be sold to professionals with appropriate certification. and can also be used within industrial installations.

According to the HSE, the issues were first raised following a complaint in August 2014 and enforcement notices issued to Abel (UK) but no action was taken.

This resulted in court action, where Abel (UK) director Nicholas Corbett pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 9 and 18 of The Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011 and regulation 10 of the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008, at the conclusion of which he received a 10-month prison sentence.

Additional action was also taken by HSE in working with online platforms to remove adverts for the illegal products.

Speaking after the trial, HSE inspector Sarah Dutton said sodium chlorate had not been approved for use in weedkillers because safe levels of use were not agreed for operators.

The use of DCM had also been restricted for use in paint strippers as it poses a risk to human health.

"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," said Ms Dutton.

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