George Setchfield, 21, was working at the Electrostatic Magic Limited site in Peterborough when he died.

The young worker had entered the company's stripping shed, which housed an Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) containing an alloy wheel stripper.

George was found unconscious and slumped over the IBC. He could not be revived.

The 21-year-old had sustained multiple organ failure, chemical pneumonitis, and cutaneous burns from exposure to dichloromethane, hydrofluoric acid and methanol.

Following an investigation by HSE, Electrostatic Magic Limited was fined £67,000 and ordered to pay £7,231 in costs at Peterborough Magistrates' Court on January 19, 2024.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and Article 67 of the REACH Regulation.

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The HSE investigation found that Electrostatic Magic Limited had failed to control exposure to dichloromethane and hydrofluoric acid.

It found that it would have been "reasonably practicable" for the company to have installed local exhaust ventilation and to have used a hoist or long-handled tools to lower and lift parts in and out of the tank.

It also found that the Peterborough firm should have provided pumped chemical systems to prevent the need to lean into the IBC, and to ensure that Personal Protective Equipment or Respiratory Protective Equipment provided was suitable for the environment.

Peterborough Matters: George was found unconscious in the Electrostatic Magic Limited stripping shed. (Credit: HSE)George was found unconscious in the Electrostatic Magic Limited stripping shed. (Credit: HSE) (Image: HSE)

These measures could have prevented George Setchfield's death.

Amanda Foster, George's mum, told Peterborough Magistrates' Court: "Trying to find some level of justice for George has taken over my entire life.

"I have spent hours going into detail, reviewing, rereading and making notes about how George died and how it should have been prevented.

"This is something that I struggle to accept, how has this been able to happen to my son?

"George’s death has affected every aspect of my life. It has left me with a constant feeling of emptiness and devastation.

"It will shadow my future forever and I know that my life will never be as it once was.

It has shattered my family’s lives and changed everyone’s life who knew and loved George.”

A spokesperson for Electrostatic Magic Limited said: "Electrostatic Magic Ltd. would again like to express sincere regret for the tragedy of Mr George Setchfield's death and offer their deepest sympathies to his family.

"Electrostatic Magic Ltd. mistakenly believed the measures it had put in place (alterations to the work area, full PPE clothing and a full face charcoal respirator) were sufficient to keep all of its workers safe.

"The safety data sheets and verbal information provided to the Company when it first purchased the chemicals did not mention local exhaust ventilation and did not fully explain the true danger posed by these chemicals. The safety data sheets were later revised by their supplier.

"The Court accepted that there were no additional aggravating features to the case and that the Company had substantial mitigation to be taken into account, this was reflected by the Judge in the penalty imposed on the 19th January 2024.

"The chemicals are no longer used by the Company and the entire paint stripping process was outsourced to a specialist third party immediately after the tragic incident.

"Electrostatic Magic Ltd. has learned substantial lessons from this incredibly sad event and continues to review and improve safety for all its workers.  "