July 17, 2018

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In Court

Chemical burns due to numerous failures

A company that manufactures and repairs rubber inflatable boats has been sentenced after an employee sustained chemical burns while cleaning down a boat using solvents.

On 23 March 2016, a worker at Humber Fabrications (Hull) Ltd was tasked with cleaning the deck of a rigid inflatable boat using the solvent dichloromethane. The employee was using a fabric cloth soaked in dichloromethane to wipe and clean the deck of a boat being manufactured. During the work he began to feel light-headed and so took a five minute break. The worker returned to the boat, knelt down inside to carry on cleaning and subsequently collapsed. He was found sometime later by his colleagues lying in a pool of dichloromethane.

The employee was taken by ambulance to Hull Royal Infirmary, where he received treatment for chemical burns to his right underarm and back.

Investigating, the HSE found the company had failed to provide suitable control measures for the occasions when employees used dichloromethane to clean the inside of boats. It was also found that there was a failure to provide local exhaust ventilation, suitable respiratory protection or personal protective equipment. In addition, the company had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment for the use of dichloromethane for cleaning boats and there was also a lack of instruction and training provided to employees for its use.

Humber Fabrications (Hull) Ltd of Wincolmlee, Hull was pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £10,300 with £2,214.10 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector James Harvey said: “This case reinforces the importance of controlling the risks associated with the use of dichloromethane, which is an incredibly hazardous substance. HSE promotes substituting dichloromethane for less harmful alternative products which do the same job.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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