Lowestoft-based Rodent Service fined for storing poison in filing cabinet

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A Suffolk pest control company which failed to store hazardous chemicals safely has been ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling more than £100,000.

Rodent Service (East Anglia) Ltd, which has premises in Cooke Road, Lowestoft, allowed a poisonous gas used for pest control to be stored in a filing cabinet in a workshop next to an office and other staff facilities, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Unauthorised pesticides were also found under a sink where staff made drinks, said Richard Beynon, prosecuting.

Sentencing the company and one of its directors Donald Martin for health and safety breaches, Judge Rupert Overbury described the storage and labelling of chemicals as “haphazard” and said there had been a “high risk” of harm to staff.

He said the company had been served with warnings and had a conviction in 2011 relating to the use of pesticides resulting in a £3,350 fine.

Rodent Service (East Anglia) Ltd admitted three offences of failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non-employees on or before June 29 last year in relation to the storage of hazardous chemicals and biocides including strychnine and phostoxin. It was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 costs.

Donald Martin, 61, of Church Road, Kessingland, admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of employees in relation to the storage of hazardous chemicals and was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

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Miles Bennett, representing Donald Martin and Rodent Service (East Anglia) Ltd, said there was no evidence of any harm actually being caused to anyone by the breaches and said the majority of the substances would have to be injected or ingested to be harmful.

He said a number of the chemicals were very old and had been purchased pre-decimalisation.

He said staff were experienced in dealing with toxic substances “day in and day out” and the risk to a third party was extremely small.

He said that “finally and belatedly” the company had improved its procedures and it was unlikely the offences would be repeated.

Mr Bennett said the company had “got a bit too busy” and combined with the ill health of one of the directors and his wife, proper attention had not been paid to the management and storage of chemicals.