Company hit with fine following chemical incident
An engineering firm based in the North East has been found guilty of breaches to the health and safety regulations.
PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd pleaded not guilty to a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, but Bedlington Magistrates Court found the company guilty, referring the case to Newcastle Crown Court to be sentenced.
Two of the company's employees were cleaning a pipe system when they received serious chemical burns. The pair was working in Cramlington when the incident occurred. Sodium hydroxide was being used to clean out the pipes, when a reaction between water in the system and the chemicals occurred, causing pressure to build up within the hose. When the hose became detached, the chemical was sprayed over the two workers. They received burns to their body, head, face, neck, arms, legs, back and buttocks, in varying degrees.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident, finding that risks had not been adequately assessed by the company. It was also found that the equipment was unsuitable for the task, and no PPE had been provided by the company.
The company had been fined £150,000, although costs were not awarded because of the liquidation of the company. Laura Catterall, HSE inspector, said that all companies working with hazardous chemicals should learn from this case, and provide suitable protective workwear for their employees. She added that the company would have identified the equipment as unsuitable had a risk assessment been carried out.