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Chemical burn costs electropolishing co £9,000

A metal surfaces finishing company has appeared in court after a worker sustained chemical burns at its Aldershot, Hampshire site.

Poligrat's use of an IBC as a reaction vessel was "highly inappropriate" said HSE inspector Andrew Johnson
Poligrat's use of an IBC as a reaction vessel was "highly inappropriate" said HSE inspector Andrew Johnson | Image credit: ©iStock/Waldemarus

Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court was told that Poligrat UK employee Keith Brown, 51, was disposing of waste cleaning chemicals. He poured caustic pearl granules into the intermediate bulk container (IBC) used to store the chemicals to help neutralise them.

A chemical reaction occurred and the IBC became unstable and its contents erupted over Brown. He fell to the floor and his safety glasses blew off, resulting in alkaline burns to his eyelids and corneal ulcers. The worker’s legs were also burned and grazed. 

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation into the 13 February 2015 accident found the company’s process for chemical disposal was not suitably or sufficiently risk assessed. 

Poligrat UK pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulations 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, which states that risk assessments must be suitable and sufficient. The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,072. 

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said: “The use of an IBC as a reaction vessel was wholly inappropriate … They are not designed for use as a chemical reactor. Other safer reasonably practicable options were available, such as using a waste management company to remove and safely dispose of the chemicals.”

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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