A popular garden centre has been fined more than £100,000 for failing to protect its employees from hazardous chemicals.

Bosses of Perrywood Garden Centre, Tiptree, admitted to three safety offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act after being prosecuted by Colchester Council.

The charges relate to an incident in April last year, where a member of staff developed breathing difficulties when clearing up some gardening chemicals at the centre.

This was investigated by environmental health officers after an official complaint was raised by the employee in September 2017.

Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard how Perrywood had a health and safety policy in place, but this had not been reviewed or updated to reflect the changes in the directorship of the company.

The court was also told the company had not implemented the safety management system as described in its own policy manual and the management team had failed to implement a set of recommendations from its own health and safety consultancy.

This included a requirement to undertake risk assessments relating to chemical use at the Kelvedon Road garden centre.

Tina Bourne, councillor responsible for housing and communities, said: “The public can be reassured that any breaches of health and safety regulations reported to us will be investigated and where any incident meets the required legal threshold, those found to be in breach of the law will face prosecution in court.

“I hope this case serves as a reminder that we take a dim view of any business that fails to put safety first and whose actions or inaction leads to personal injury.”

Perrywood was ordered to pay £104,000 in fines, costs of £3,691.16 and a £170 victim surcharge - totalling £107,861.16.

A seven day collection order was put in place.

Alan Bourne, managing director of Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries Ltd, said: “We take the health and safety of our team and customers extremely seriously and have a number of policies and procedures in order to safeguard everyone at the garden centre.

“Unfortunately, an incident did occur in 2017 concerning a current member of staff.

“Since then we have put additional policies and training in place to ensure that an incident like this does not occur again.”