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Dairy farm worker blinded by disinfectant chemicals

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a farm after a faulty chemicals pump sprayer ruptured into the face of the employee. 

Beechdean Farm, part of the Beechdean Group, must pay more than £19,000 for health and safety failings following the August 2017 incident.

An employee was cleaning the walls of the dairy farm at Old House Farm in North Dean, Buckinghamshire, using a corrosive disinfectant DM CiD, which contains potassium hydroxide. The pump sprayer being used unexpectedly developed a fault and ruptured into the face of the employee. His face became covered in the caustic and corrosive disinfectant, rendering him permanently blind in both eyes.

An HSE investigation found that the dairy farm had failed to plan and supervise the use of chemicals for cleaning the dairy and did not have effective emergency arrangements in place.

At High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court, Beechdean Farm pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £8,000 plus costs of £11,879.

“While it was possible for both the pump sprayer and the chemical to be used for cleaning, this incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing correct control measures, safe working practices and appropriate emergency arrangements," said HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner after the hearing. 

“Agriculture is an industry with a high accident rate, and the chemicals and activity involved in this incident are common in dairy farming, so this case should send a message to farms about the dangers of working with chemicals."

 

Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.

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