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An electro-polishing company in Hampshire has been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £1,000 after one of their workers was seriously injured by chemicals at their premises.

Keith Brown, a 51-year-old employee of the company, was instructed by his manager to dispose of some waste cleaning products at their Aldershot site. The agreed method was to pour the caustic pearl granules into the top of an intermediate bulk container that contained acids that would help to neutralise the chemicals inside. Unfortunately during this process the mixing of the chemicals created an exothermic reaction which led to the container becoming unstable and the contents erupting over the employee, as well as the blast knocking him to the ground. This reaction caused the chemicals to burn Mr Brown’s eyes and eyelids, and in addition the fall caused him to suffer grazes and bruising to his legs.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the activity and the substances used in the process were not suitably or sufficiently risk assessed. HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said “The use of an intermediate bulk container (IBC) as a reaction vessel was wholly inappropriate. IBC’s are designed for the storage of a range of substances. They are not designed 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.

This case highlights the need for companies to be constantly vigilant and to frequently review health and safety procedures alongside regularly updating their risk management approach. A thorough risk assessment would have highlighted the potential dangers of this method of chemical disposal, and quite possibly would have made the incident avoidable.

All companies have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees. By identifying risks and putting robust systems in place to minimise danger, most accidents and injuries can be avoided. If you or someone you know has been injured at work, and it was the fault or responsibility of the employer, you could be eligible to claim for compensation. Our solicitors have years of experience in dealing with these kinds of cases so contact us today and let us see if we can help you get the compensation you deserve.