South Shields firm ordered to improve worker safety after failings found following ‘chemical incident’

One of South Tyneside’s best-known firms has been ordered to beef up workforce safety at its factory after a year-long probe found failings.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 9:22 am
The Dicksons factory, Middlefields Industrial Estate

Health and safety chiefs have stopped short of prosecuting MI Dickson Ltd for what has been described as a “chemical incident” in December 2017.

But they have warned it to improve safety systems at its main production site in Heddon Way on the Middlefields Industrial Estate, South Shields.

Managing director Chris Hayman

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The safety watchdogs have issued the company - which has seven shops in South Tyneside and 30 across the North East - with a notification of contravention (NoC) letter detailing the laws it has broken.

They gave no details of those but an NoC lists infringements and tells the employer what it must do to comply.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched its investigation following a reported employee injury on December 12.

At the time, MI Dickson bosses confirmed a worker had been hurt while carrying out routine equipment cleaning.

The North East Ambulance Service, which dispatched three teams to the site, including two advanced paramedics from a specialist rapid response unit, described it as a “chemical incident”.

The staff member was treated at the scene and then taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary to be treated.

The scale of those injuries remains unknown.

The HSE has now confirmed it has completed its investigation – and MI Dickson said it was implementing changes.

An HSE spokeswoman said: “The Health and Safety Executive investigated this incident to ensure a recurrence was prevented and to determine whether there had been any breaches of health and safety law.

“Upon concluding our investigation, we determined the company would need to make a number of improvements to their safety management system and a notification of contravention letter has been sent.

“We will not be taking any further action at this time and will not be commenting further.”

Chris Hayman, managing director of MI Dickson, said the firm had been given an NoC following an investigation by the HSE.

He added: “We have been working to implement the changes raised by the HSE and remain committed to the safety of our customers and employees.”

The first MI Dicksons outlet was established in Prince Edward Road, at the Nook shopping centre, South Shields, in 1953.

Today, the family-run business, which describes itself as a manufacturer, retailer and wholesaler of own recipe meat and food products, employs about 300 people.

As well as the Nook, it also has shops in South Shields town centre, Laygate, Boldon Lane, Whiteleas and Jarrow.