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Company prosecuted after workers severely burned by cleaning chemicals
05 January 2017
A North East engineering company has been sentenced for safety breaches after two of its workers were burned when they were sprayed with chemicals during chemical cleaning of a pipework system.
Newcastle Crown Court heard on 3rd January 2017 that on 31 July 2014 two employees of PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd received serious burns while working at a Hyclone UK Ltd site, in Cramlington. The workers were using Sodium Hydroxide granules to clean a pipe system. 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.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that the task was not adequately risk assessed by PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd, the equipment provided to do the job, in particular the hosing, was not suitable for the solution, and the company failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to its employees.
PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd of Bridgewater Lane, Washington, Tyne and Wear, pleaded not guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 on 28 November 2016 at Bedlington Magistrates Court but they were found guilty and the case was referred to Newcastle Crown Court for sentencing. They were fined £150,000 by Newcastle Crown Court. No costs were awarded due to the company being in liquidation.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Catterall said: “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.”