Firms are being asked to learn from an incident in which an engineering company was fined £150,000 after two workers suffered chemical burns.

Workers were cleaning a pipework system with a hose containing sodium hydroxide granules. The court was told a chemical reaction meant pressure built within the hose causing it to disconnect and spray burning liquid.

Safety failings

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found:

  • The task had not been adequately risk assessed.
  • Hosing was unsuitable for the sodium hydroxide solution.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) provided was incorrect.

Sentence

PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd denied breaking the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. However, the judge found the company guilty.

It was fined £150,000 but no costs were ordered due to the company’s liquidation.

The HSE said if a suitable risk assessment had been done it would have identified the equipment was not right for the chemicals or work. It added “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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