Lead poisoning has wrecked my life

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A Lancaster man was poisoned by lead while working at a stained glass company.

David Doherty had seven times the normal amount of lead in his blood after five years of restoring windows.

His former boss at Lincolnshire Stained Glass has been fined £36,000 in fines and costs after a court case.

Mr Doherty, 26, has been undergoing hospital treatment for over a year and has returned to live with his family in Lancaster as he has been unable to work since the diagnosis in October 2011. He had complained of nausea, feeling unwell and tired, suffered with frequent infections, lost his appetite, was unable to sleep and felt depressed. It was only on a visit to his local surgery after contracting another infection that the illness was discovered.

“This whole experience has just ruined my life,” he said. “It was just one thing after another and I was constantly going back to the doctors. I found myself getting really angry all the time, losing my temper with people. I did not know what was happening to me – only that it wasn’t at all nice.” Mr Doherty worked using techniques such as soldering, wire brushing and wire wooling. He had not been face-fitted for respiratory protective equipment to ensure that it was suitable, had not been provided with full overalls and had not been told about the risks and symptoms of lead poisoning.

“I had no training and didn’t take any certificates in working with lead,” he said. “I even used to go home in the clothes I’d been working in.

“Thankfully I’m starting to feel better. I was in a really bad place for a while but it feels like the treatment is working. I’m thinking of going to college and maybe even starting my own business.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that David Sear, owner of Lincolnshire Stained Glass, failed to provide controls to protect his six workers from lead poisoning.

He had been told of the requirement to do so in 2005 when blood tests carried out on the advice of HSE showed workers were at significant risk of lead poisoning but he failed to act on this.

Mr Sear, 59, of Theddlethorpe, near Mablethorpe, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(1) of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 between 16 January 2010 and 13 October 2011 for failing to control the risk of lead exposure.

He was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of the same amount.