Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Toxic Chemical Burns Injuries Could Have Easily Been Avoided
Posted by David Cant on October 3, 2012

When working with dangerous substances and chemicals extra steps must be taken to prevent injury or health problems. The importance of following these regulations have been highlighted this week after a Tyneside company was fined in court after a worker suffered serious chemical burns at work.

The employee of DMI was seriously burnt when going about his duties as an electroplater in January 2011. The court heard that during the electroplating process sometimes a tank that is used for stripping needs to be refilled with a solution of sodium hydroxide concentrate. Michael Reid was performing the refilling task, using a pump to ensure the tank was filled. Unfortunately Mr Reid was covered with the concentrated sodium hydroxide solution when a hose can detached from the pump.

Serious Injury Resulted in Inspection by the HSE

Mr Reid had worked for the company since 1963 and after the incident in January 2011 he has since retired and not returned to work. After the accident he had to spend a couple of weeks in hospital.  His legs and arms were badly burnt with the corrosive chemical and he had to endure many painful skin grafts.

When the Health and Safety Executive investigated DMI they discovered that the hose wasn’t attached properly, which caused the accident.  The hose should have been attached to the pump using a jubilee clip; however in this instance the hose was attached with simple tape, making it unsafe.  The HSE also found that there hadn’t been a risk assessment completed by the firm and there weren’t any checks performed to ensure that the hose was properly connected to prevent accidents.  Mr Reid had also never received training for safely handling the sodium peroxide and he was not provided with adequate safety protective equipment that could have stopped the chemical from burning his skin.

The company were fined £12,000 after pleading guilty for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.  In addition to the fine DMI were issued with a bill for £4,081 to cover the court costs.  Had the company had a safe system of work established for the task of topping up the tank the accident could have been avoided and therefore Mr Reid had been put at risk.

Are You Doing Enough to Protect Your Employees?

Any company needs to ensure that hazards are managed effectively to protect their employees and other people at risk.  DMI had failed to protect a long serving employee leaving him with serious injuries and resulting in Mr Reid taking early retirement.  In this instance there were numerous areas that led up accident:

  • Lack of training
  • No risk assessment
  • No protective equipment
  • Lack of checks
  • No safe system of work

If you would like to discuss your current systems or arrange assistance with the training of employees, risk assessments and your health and safety policies contact health and safety consultants.  They will be able to help you to ensure are doing everything to follow the Health and Safety at Work Act. Discuss the various health and safety services with an expert by calling 0800 1488 677.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety, Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety, Workplace Safety

Follow all of the latest Veritas Consulting news on our RSS feed

Twitter: Veritas_Tweets