Updated Jul 27, 2021

Company fined after worker suffered chemical burns

Granville Oil & Chemical Company Ltd was sentenced this month for safety breaches, after a worker suffered chemical burns to both arms and one leg.

Sheffield Magistrates' Court heard that in 2016 a worker was involved in a spillage incident when making engine degreaser at a plant in Rotherham. The water-based product is made by blending Ultra-Concentrate with water.

The worker used a forklift truck to lift a container carrying 1,000 litres of Ultra-Concentrate to decant 250 litres of concentrate into three containers on the ground, each of which contained 750 litres of water. The company had specifically manufactured a rigid metal pipe to transfer the concentrate from one container to another.

As the employee drove the forklift truck into position, the forks of the truck suddenly dropped one or two feet, causing the metal transfer pipe to hit the ground and break. Ultra-Concentrate began to fall out of the container.

The worker exited the cab of the forklift truck and put his hand over the damaged valve to try and stem the flow. A large pool of concentrate had already formed on the ground, which the worker was stood in to reach the valve. This caused chemical burns to both his arms and one leg, requiring hospital treatment.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker had no eye protection and his clothes were soaked in Ultra-Concentrate. He only wore safety boots, a high visibility waist coat and a pair of latex gloves. HSE also found there was no drench shower on site and workers were given no assistance or instructions to change from clothing or wash properly when in contact with harmful substances.

Granville Oil & Chemical Company Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £9,928.60 in costs.

HSE inspector, David Coackley, said: "The company had no systems in place for dealing with spillages and was not properly equipped to deal with the consequences of employees being contaminated with substances which might be harmful to their health".

"This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices".