Employee Suffers Chemical Burns in Accident at Work
A Hampshire based electro-polishing company has been fined for an accident at work incident in which a worker suffered chemical burns.
Accident at Work Incident
On 13 February 2015, an employee of Poligrat (UK) Limited was instructed by a manager to dispose of waste cleaning chemicals at the firm’s site in Aldershot.
The agreed method was to transfer caustic pearl granules into the top part of an ‘intermediate bulk container’ (IBC) containing acids, in order to neutralise the chemicals inside.
However, during this process an exothermic reaction occurred and the container became unstable. The chemicals erupted over the employee, 51 year old Keith Brown, and he was thrown to the ground.
The force of the chemical reaction blew Mr Brown’s glasses off and he suffered alkaline burns to his eyelids and ulcers to both corneas, as well as grazing and burns to his legs.
Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court how an investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive found various safety breaches. Firstly, it was found that the agreed method of transferring the substances had not been suitably risk assessed. Secondly, it was found that the substances used themselves had also not been sufficiently risk assessed.
Poligrat (UK) Limited, of Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The company was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,072.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said:
“The use of an IBC as a reaction vessel was wholly inappropriate. IBC’s are designed for the storage of a range of substances. They are not designed for use as a chemical reactor. Other safer reasonably practicable options were available, such as using a waste management company to remove and safely dispose of the chemicals.”
Accident at Work – Expert Advice
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Source: Health & Safety Executive