The $289 Million Verdict Against Monsanto: What companies can learn from the lawsuit

In a recent and highly publicised case against agribusiness brand, Monsanto, a former school groundskeeper who used their Roundup herbicide in his job was awarded $289 (including $250 million in punitive damages against the company) after he developed terminal cancer. Though years of scientific research has concluded that it is unlikely that DeWayne Johnson, the individual in question, had developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma from using the herbicide, it was decided in his favour by a California jury.                                                                                                                                                                      

Despite research showing that there is unlikely to be a link between the use of glyphosate and the development of cancer, this case shows that opinions can vary over time in regards to the safety of certain chemicals. Thus, this case is a stark reminder for many industries that due diligence and protecting employees should remain a high priority in business processes.

Cases like this and allegations against companies are not uncommon, and there are a set of standards and legal obligations that businesses must follow to ensure employees remain in good health. One main way they can achieve this is by ensuring they provide the relevant equipment and protective clothing to carry out tasks. 

Responsibilities of employers

Industries across the country have different risks and operational hazards that should be considered when employing staff. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) set out a range of guidelines for specific sectors to manage health and safety in a safe and responsible way. Protecting employees is of paramount importance, and if workers are exposed to hazardous environments, risk assessments and efficient processes have to be in place to prevent harm to health and wellbeing.

There are many legal regulations, such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). There are also many others that cover everything from working at height, to general first aid. Each regulation details specific duties that should be carried out by employers to ensure adequate protection in everyday tasks.

Ways to protect employees

Following legal obligations helps to protect both companies and workers in different sectors. Many industrial environments work with chemicals and hazardous substances, and providing necessary equipment and protective workwear enables employees to carry out duties in a safe way. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and workwear is essential in many scenarios. This includes providing protection from dust or air containments such as silica, and corrosive chemicals that might harm the skin.

Providing personal protective equipment is essential, but delivering sufficient training, supervision and processes to prevent accidents will ensure they are adequately prepared in the work environment.

Using professional services to prevent contamination

One of the most common ways for employees to be inadvertently exposed to harmful substances is by laundering their own clothing. When garments have been subjected to different environments, ensuring workers do not carry this containment into the outside environment is vital. By using a professional commercial laundry service, you can monitor and hygienically clean work clothing in a controlled way.

The phs Besafe laundry service provides a cost-effective and protective solution for employees. This is especially useful for sectors that work with containments. By safely collecting your company workwear, laundering and returning to your premises, this eliminates the need for employees to wash clothing at home and prevents contamination in their family and the wider community.

For industries that work with the by-product silica, this can ensure the dust is completely removed from clothing and employees change into workwear on-site in a controlled environment. As part of our service, we launder garments that may have come into contact with silica dust in a soluble bag. Because the garment is placed in the soluble bag before we collect it from your site, it greatly reduces the risk of contamination.

Our laundry service also helps to increase the longevity of the clothing with environmentally friendly and gentle washing techniques suitable for specialised protective clothing.

Safeguarding your employees with suitable clothing is also easy with our tailored workwear supply service. We can advise on the best solutions for your commercial environment and provide high quality, made to fit clothing for the best protective benefits. Call us now for a free quote.

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