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Pharmaceutical firm failed to protect worker from hazardous substances

7 May 2015

Macfarlan Smith Limited of Wheatfield Road, Edinburgh pleaded guilty to safety failings after an employee was exposed to hazardous substances.

The company, that manufactures basic pharmaceutical products, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £27,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The court heard that between 6 April 2004 and 28 January 2010, the company failed to review and ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employee, Michael Halpin.

Mr Haplin continued to work with 14-Hydroxycodeinone and other hazardous substances, such as Oxycodone after he had been diagnosed with allergic contact dermatitis as a result of the exposure. Despite advice from a medical professional, Mr Haplin continued to work with both substances which resulted in him suffering from an adverse health effect, namely skin sensation.

After being employed by Macfarlan Smith Limited for approximately 17 years, Macfarlan Smith Ltd considered it impossible to redeploy Mr Halpin to suitable alternative duties due to his sensitisation, and his employment was terminated on 31 December 2010 on grounds of capability.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at
  4. More information about dermatitis can be found at

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