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Employer Failings Lead to Worker Receiving Severe Burns

A waste and recycling company has appeared in court in Teesside on health and safety charges after a worker received severe burns to his upper body and face.

The company in question processes waste and turns it into energy by burning it. There was a blockage in the chute that takes the burnt waste away, so the worker opened two hatches on the chute and used a metal pole to try and clear it. In doing so the waste dropped into a pit filled with water and a plume of hot ash and steam erupted from the hatches causing severe burns to his upper body and face as he turned to escape.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to adequately consider the risk that workers were exposed to during this task. This meant the system of work they had wasn’t sufficient to stop the incident happening. It was also found the company failed to implement appropriate systems to manage and supervise this workplace activity. This meant the limited measures they had put in place were not followed.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £220,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,695.

“Problems often occur in production and it is essential that companies recognise and understand them to prevent them happening, or introduce engineering controls and systems of work that prevent people being injured,” commented HSE inspector Victoria Wise.

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