January 5, 2017
Two employees of a North East engineering company suffered severe chemical burns in a workplace accident due to inappropriate equipment being supplied.
On 31st July 2014, two employees of PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd were trying to clean a pipe system at a site in Cramlington, Northumberland. While they were cleaning the system with Sodium Hydroxide granules, a chemical reaction occurred between the granules and the water they were using, causing the liquid to heat up and create intense pressure within the hose.
Due to the intense pressure, the hose detached and sprayed both employees with the hazardous solution. Both employees suffered severe chemical burns in a workplace accident – one receiving life threatening burns to his back, buttocks, arms, leg, neck, and one side of his face. The other receiving burns to the right side of his head, neck, back, left arm and behind his right ear.
Officers from the Health and Safety Executive investigated the cause of the accident and discovered that an inadequate risk assessment had been conducted prior to the two employees being assigned the job, the hosing provided for the job not suitable for the solution, and that PSL Worldwide Projects had failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment to the two employees.
PSL Worldwide Projects was prosecuted for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and found guilty of being responsible for the severe chemical burns in a workplace accident by Bedlington Magistrates´ Court last November. Sentencing was referred to Newcastle Crown Court, who this week fined the company £150,000.
Speaking after the sentencing hearing, HSE inspector Laura Catterall commented: “If a suitable risk assessment had been undertaken it would have identified that the equipment being used was not right for the chemicals or the work being carried out. All companies who work with high hazard chemicals should learn from this case and ensure that their workers are properly protected.”