Thursday, 21 May 2015

Driver continued to drive lorry which was leaking potassium hydroxide.

Whitman Laboratories Ltd, of Petersfield, and Allport Cargo Services Ltd. of Sittingbourne, were each fined £23,500 (inc. costs) after they allowed a lorry with leaking corrosive potassium hydroxide to travel 12 miles.
The circumstances were:
  • 170 plastic jerricans containing a 45 per cent solution were loaded at Whitman Laboratories.
  • The jerricans were loaded by an unsupervised contract employee, who had only started the job as a loader that week. 
  • The loader did not know how loads should be safety stowed and had not loaded a dangerous consignment previously. 
  • Whitman provided little guidance on safe stowage
  • The jerricans were not tightened.
  • They were stacked on pallets but not securely 
  • The pallets were not braced on the trailer.
  • The driver noticed his load was leaking during a stop at a motorway service station on the M2 in Kent.
  • He phoned his transport supervisor and said the substance was corrosive and that he wanted the emergency services to be called.
  • His transport supervisor consulted her line manager and then directed the driver to return to Sittingbourne, which was 12 miles away. 
  • On arrival, the extent of damage was realised and the emergency services were finally called –nearly two hours after the leak was originally discovered.
  • Six fire engines attended the scene and hosed down the contaminated area. 
  • The driver and warehouse supervisor, who had been called in to assist, were believed to have been exposed to the material. They were stripped down and hosed on site, before being taken to hospital for observation. The service station was also decontaminated.
  • Around 85 litres of potassium hydroxide was lost.

The HSE inspector said: 
“Potassium hydroxide can cause severe damage to eyes and skin and is classified as dangerous for transport. The responsibilities under the regulations are clear. It was only by chance that no-one was seriously injured in this incident.”

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