Friday, 31 October 2014

Plastics company fined after worker was struck by molten plastic

Ebac Ltd., of County Durham was fined £9,000 (inc. costs and surcharge)  after a worker suffered serious burns when he was struck by a jet of hot molten plastic.
The circumstances were:
  • John Calcutt was helping clear solidified plastic from a large plastic injection moulding machine on 9 September 2013.
  • A blockage was identified at the machine’s injection unit, where the raw material is fed into the machine, melted and mixed before being injected into the mould cavity.
  • Ebac had not carried out an assessment of the risks to employees while clearing blockages on the feed / injection system.
  • Ebac did not ensure workers were using personal protective equipment.
  • Mr Calcutt had not received any training on clearing blockages on the machine. 
  • Mr Calcutt and two colleagues attempted to clear the blockage. 
  • None of those involved in the task were wearing any form of eye or face protection.
  • Hot liquid plastic was ejected from the machine and struck Mr Calcutt across the left side of his face and his left hand and arm by the  causing serious burns.
  • He was airlifted to hospital and kept in for three days. He is still receiving treatment and physiotherapy but has returned to work at Ebac Ltd.

The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident could have been easily prevented if Ebac Ltd had a safe system of work in place for dealing with blockages. The potential for ejection of hot molten plastic is highlighted in the industry’s own guidance and this was a foreseeable risk that should have been part of the risk assessment process for clearing blockages. The company should have also had monitoring in place to ensure that its employees were using the appropriate personal protective equipment that had been provided. Instead, the firm’s failures mean a worker has suffered serious injuries.”

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