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An engineering company from the North East has been fined £150,000 after two of its workers were severely burned when they were sprayed with dangerous chemicals whilst cleaning a pipe-work system.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the two workers were seriously injured while working at the Hyclone UK Ltd site in Cramlington. They were using Sodium Hydroxide granules to clean pipe-work at the plant when the chemical reacted with water within the system causing it to rapidly heat up and build enormous pressure within the hose. The hose was unable to withstand the pressure and when it detached itself it sprayed the workers with the solution, causing severe burns.

One of the employees suffered life-threatening burns to his upper and lower back, his arms, his legs and one side of his face. His colleague received burns to the right side of his head, his neck, his back, on one arm and behind his ear.

When an investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive they identified that a proper risk assessment had not been carried out with regard to the cleaning process. In addition it found that the equipment provided to carry out the job was not suitable and that adequate personal protective equipment was not made available to the employees.

Speaking 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.”

Chemicals can present a huge range of risks if their use is not properly managed. The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) guidelines provide information and advice on the safe use of chemicals, and these rules need to be taken into account when assessing the risks of dealing with any chemical.

If you or someone you care for has been injured through improper use or management of chemicals, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Contact one of our highly trained solicitors today to discuss your case free of charge, with no obligation to continue with a case if you choose not to do so. We have years of experience in handling cases such as these, and we’ll swiftly be able to tell you how much you could claim.