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Company fined after worker suffers acid burns

21 November 2017

A plastic manufacturing company has been fined after an employee suffered burns to his right foot and ankle.

Preston Crown Court heard the incident occurred at AGC Chemicals Europe Ltd premises at the Hillhouse International Park in Thornton Cleveleys early in the morning on 23 August 2014. The plant had been shut down due to a small leak elsewhere in the process.

After a failed attempt to repair the leak by another employee, the injured person, Dave Crellin, was switching the sulphuric acid circulation pump off. In order to reach the pump shut off button, the injured person had to stand in a poorly lit enclosed area containing a 5000 litre tank of 96% concentrated sulphuric acid. As he stood on a metal pipe carrying the acid to the pump, it collapsed having fractured in two places, causing acid to to gush out of the pipe and onto the employee’s leg.

Mr Crellin underwent surgery and received two skin grafts. He has been permanently scarred by the accident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the sulphuric acid pipework had not been properly supported and as a result collapsed after a relatively small amount of weight was place on it. AGC CE was warned in August 2013 and May 2014 by independent examiners that the pipe that fractured needed to be properly supported. On both occasions company failed to take any action.

AGC Chemicals Europe Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £ 300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,275.84.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Tim Beaumont said: “This incident could have easily been avoided if the defendant had taken more care in acting on the advice of independent examiners. A very simple and cheap repair to support the pipework that failed would have prevented this incident altogether.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We seek to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
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