Inexperienced workers suffer burns
Two agency workers suffered burns after using unsuitable tools to mix chemicals at a Leicestershire adhesives factory.
Wayne Saddington and William Gillespie were working for Anglo Adhesives and Services Ltd at the company’s premises in Melton Mowbray, when the incident took place on 2 September 2008.
Both men were given a job card, which told them to use a plastic barrel to mix two solvents to create an adhesive that is used to make PVC. They were not given any information about potential hazards, or told what equipment was suitable to use for mixing. They chose to use an electrical mixer, which is designed to mix paint. When they began mixing, the flammable vapour above the liquid ignited, sending a flame shooting upwards. This set fire to Mr Saddington’s hi-visibility tabard, and both men received minor burns to their faces.
HSE inspector Will Pasco visited the site on 12 September and issued a Prohibition Notice, which banned this method of work and ordered the firm to carry out a full risk assessment. Inspector Pasco said: “The company should have given them proper instructions, and there should have been a risk assessment and a safe system of working. They should have been told to use a metallic drum, which should have been earthed, and they should have used a mixer that was suitable for use in an explosive atmosphere.”
Anglo Adhesives and Services appeared at Melton Magistrates’ Court on 4 November and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA. It also admitted a breach of reg. 5(1) and reg. 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002, for failing to undertake a sufficient risk assessment, and subsequently failing to eliminate the risks posed by a dangerous substance, respectively it was given a total fine of £15,000 and ordered to pay £5500 in costs.
The firm has no previous relevant convictions and mitigated that it had fully complied with the investigation and enforcement notice. The company told the court that it has now employed a part-time safety consultant, who has carried out a full risk assessment across the site and has subsequently re-issued workers with more detailed job cards.
Inspector Pasco added: “Mr Saddington and Mr Gillespie had only been working at the company for a matter of weeks. They were not experienced in working with flammable liquids and were not aware of the danger they were putting themselves in. They were incredibly lucky not to have suffered more severe injuries.”
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