Having a comprehensive understanding of Health & Safety is vital when you work with substances that could be hazardous to health. There are many different rules and regulations regarding how to handle various dangerous chemicals. It is important that your employees are made aware of these rules. This helps them to keep safe in hazardous environments.
A recent prosecution has confirmed that a company in Rotherham has been fined after a worker suffered chemical burns to one leg and both arms.
The spillage occurred as a result of a worker mixing degreaser. The water-based product is made by blending Ultra-Concentrate with water.
The worker used a forklift truck to move a container of 1,000 litres of Ultra-Concentrate. He had to decant 250 litres of concentrate into three containers on the ground. Each contained 75 litres of water. The company had created a rigid metal pipe, which allowed the transfer of concentrate from one container to another.
As he drove the forklift into position, the forks of the truck suddenly dropped one or two feet. This caused the metal transfer pipe to hit the ground and break. Ultra-Concentrate began to pour out of the container.
Upon leaving the cab of the forklift truck, the worker put his hand over the damaged valve to try and stem the flow. A large pool of Ultra-Concentrate had already formed on the ground and the worker stood in it to reach the valve.
The employee suffered chemical burns to both arms and one leg, and he required hospital treatment as a result.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the worker had no eye protection, and his clothes were soaked in Ultra-Concentrate. He wore only safety boots, a high visibility waist coat and a pair of latex gloves. In addition to this, HSE found that there was no drench shower on site. Workers were also given no assistance or instructions to change from clothing or wash properly in the event of contact with harmful substances.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £9,960.60 in costs.
HSE Inspector David Coackley commented: ‘This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.’
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