James Croucher – Painter and Decorator

James Croucher is a time served Scottish painter & Decorator of approximately 37 years, but what makes James any different from most of you reading this article? Well here is James’s story… 

James recalls an incident in his career that happened to him about 15 years ago, James was working for a large Painting & Decorating Company, based in Aberdeen Scotland. After a few weeks of working on a new build project, the site manager called James over and said slightly concerned “I’m sorry but you’re not working today, the boss wants to see you back at the offices?”

On arrival he reported to the reception and was told to sit and wait as the Managing Director wanted to speak with him, but he had absolutely no idea what was about to happen to him!

James was offered a new position. The Managing Director said he had been waiting for right man to come along and work alongside him, and continued by saying James was that person. The intention was that he would semi-retire within the next 5 years and he offered James an amazing opportunity to shadow him, to help to run his business until he retired. After listening to the company’s attractive salary package, James could envision his dreams of a prosperous and mapped out future.

This happened on a Thursday, he had a doctor’s appointment the following day and he asked if he could consider the position until Monday. What happened next was unimaginable and made James’ decision for him.

James attended the doctor’s appointment the next morning. The doctor seemed concerned and James was sent for an appointment that same afternoon for a scan at his local hospital. Things moved very quickly and James recalls a phone call at 6pm that day from his doctor, informing him to attend an appointment at the Royal Infirmary hospital Ward 101 the following morning. James was concerned and asked what was wrong? The doctor replied, “your consultant will explain everything tomorrow morning at 6.30am”. It was a harrowing 12 hour wait and after an examination James was told the unthinkable news that he had bladder cancer.

James was recovering from the breakdown of his marriage and had young children to think about. He had begun rebuilding his life and was in a new relationship and now all he could think was he was about to lose everything. His whole life seemed to fall apart.

James had just three questions for his consultant?

1. Did he know how he could have got this type of cancer?  

2. What is the worst experience had seen in any other patient with a similar case to him? 


3. What is the best outcome of success of his life expectancy?

The doctor’s reply was frank. He said he had a patient just like James who arrived at his practice on a Monday morning and unfortunately, he had passed away by the end of the week however, in answer to James’ third question, “what is the best scenario he had ever seen?”. At least 60% of patient receiving treatment had been successful.

So how did James contract this type of cancer?

One potential cause of bladder cancer was lead poisoning, for many years as a painter and decorator James had been using lead-based paints and been removing old flaky paints, which could have easily caused his illness.

Comprehensive analysis of published evidence in Occupational and Environmental Medicine concludes that painters are at significantly increased risk of developing bladder cancer

It was armed with this knowledge that James decided his experience could make a difference to others and he began researching other factors that could also have contributed to his condition and realised that paint stripper Methylene chloride, diachronic methane, DCM based paint strippers was also a possible cause.

James discovered that DCM based paint strippers were freely obtainable in the retail market without any restrictions. After concerns for the industry he worked in, James decided to create a new training course and called it Strip-Safe. Studying for months, progressing his knowledge, James has made it his mission to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

After around two years of continuous development James received a call asking him to attend a presentation in London, in Whitehall at Trafalgar Square, given by the National Home Improvement Council and Trustmark Government Endorsement Agency.

It was at this presentation that James was recognised for his work and presented with an award for raising training skills and standards with innovation. It was at this moment that James realised that his mission had only just begun, but on returning to Scotland James was armed with the realisation that people were starting to sit up and listen to him.

He was invited to attend the headquarters of the International Chemical unit of the Health and Safety Executive; they were working on the banning of DCM based paint strippers not only in the UK, but also across Europe.

In January 2017 The Health & Safety executive launched training with strict guidelines. The Strip-Safe DCM paint removal course was finally launched throughout the UK

Strip-Safe DCM paint removal courses, influenced the restriction within the UK and the outcome was the ban would take place in all states in the EU, except United Kingdom were professionals could still purchase and use them, providing they attended professional training. The manufacturers of methylene chloride created a derogation to uphold, “not” banning this chemical within the United Kingdom, as a training course for safe use is available in the UK.

 So…why allow DCM based Paint Strippers, when there is so many other paint strippers to choose from? The main reason; when blending formulations of paint strippers, all types of chemicals are used, some of these can be as hazardous as DCM based, if you take away the awareness of one chemical then your take away the awareness of others chemicals used in paint stripper. This you can clearly see years on if you read the M.S.D.S. of some alternative paint strippers, sold and used today freely.

Since the launch of the DCM training courses, James has received many inquiries for training, however some ask “why do we need training? We have been using this product for years with no problems and can still freely buy DCM based Paint Strippers, so why should we get trained”. 

Why? The misuse of these substances must stop! 

The law states you must be trained to use these products! 

Industry Supports such training and so should you! 

We are asking for your help? If you use any paint strippers read the M.S.D.S. The Training course covers all paint strippers. Are you using DCM Paint Stripper? If so, please get trained,you never know you may save someone’s life or more importantly your own.


Next Training Venue: 6th February 2018. The Players Club. 10.00am – 4.00pm Codrington, Chipping, Sodbury, Bristol BS37 6RZ.

For more information contact:  James Croucher Managing Director – Strip-Safe DCM Training

Tel: 0844 247 5657 Mob: 0776 234 8256 Email: info@stripsafe.co.uk Web: www.stripsafe.co.uk


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