Wednesday, 18 January 2017

North Eastern engineering company fined £150,000 after 2 employees sustained chemical burns

PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd., were fined £150,000 for safety breaches after two of its workers were burned when they were sprayed with chemicals during chemical cleaning of a pipework system.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred during cleaning of pipework at a Hyclone UK Ltd site, in Cramlington on 31 July 2014.
  • The cleaning of the pipework system used sodium hydroxide (caustic soda).
  • PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd., had not adequately risk assessed the task.
  • The equipment provided to do the job, in particular the hosing, was not suitable for the solution.
  • PSL failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment.
  •  A reaction occurred between the chemicals and water in the system that caused the liquid to heat up building up pressure in the hose. 
  • The hose detached and sprayed the two workers with the solution, causing severe burns.
  • One operative received life threatening burns to his back, buttocks, arms, leg, neck and one side of his face. 
  • The other operative received burns to the right side of his head, his neck, and back, left arm and behind his right ear.

No costs were awarded due to the company being in liquidation.
The HSE inspector 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.”

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