A veterinary group that was fined after potentially exposing staff to chemotherapy drugs has made key changes in its health and safety.

DVS has now implemented enhanced safety measures

Davies Veterinary Specialists pleaded guilty after vets, nurses and support staff were potentially exposed to harmful chemotherapy drugs over a four-year period.

The group was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay more than £50,000 in costs after Luton Crown Court found the company had breeched Section 2 of the Health at Work Act 1974.

Investigators also found there was no system in place to prevent or reduce the risk of exposure to employees, there had been no maintenance of the fume cupboard for many years, and that the cleaning procedures were inadequate.

Staff had not been given any safety training in the safe use of the fume cupboard, and there was inadequate personal protective equipment and no monitoring systems. This meant staff could have been exposed to the potentially harmful drugs from July 2007 to September 2011.

The company has issued an apology and taken steps to ensure the future safety of its staff.

Clive Elwood, managing director of Davies Veterinary Specialists, said: “We accept there were some failings during the period in question and the company apologises sincerely to those concerned. I am grateful to all those involved for their hard work in helping to bring this to a conclusion.

“This has been a challenging experience, but we have learned many important lessons we have since been able to apply across the business.

“Changes undertaken since we self-reported include the installation of a state-of-the art negative pressure isolator for handling cytotoxic drugs into new rooms as well as extensive update training across the practice regarding the risks associated with cytotoxic drugs.

Our practice management team has undertaken specific training in health and safety and I myself have achieved a certificate from the National Examination Boards in Occupational Safety and Health.”

For the full story, read issue 45 of the Veterinary Times, out November 6.

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