Casual labourers left scarred by concrete

A builder has been successfully prosecuted for allowing two of his workers to work knee deep in concrete for over four hours leaving both employees with chemical burns. The labourers were working on a development where they were demolishing five garages and building two new semi-detached homes in their place.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how the two victims had been asked to help with the concreting of a basement. The job required them to wade amongst the concrete, in varying depths from below the knee to ankle height, in order to smooth and evenly distribute it before it was left to set.

Three hours into the job, one of the workers complained of pain to his legs and left the basement to find out what was causing the discomfort. He was unable to find facilities where he could wash off the concrete which meant he was unable to check the extent of the injuries to his legs. The other worker continued working in the concrete for at least another hour.

The HSE successfully prosecuted the 55 year old builder after it was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs due to failing in his duty of care as an employer. The building contractor failed to provide proper instructions to his workers, did not make them aware of the dangers of working with concrete (which is very alkali), failed to provide correct protective clothing and equipment and did not provide suitable facilities on site to wash away the chemical substances.

Both workers sustained second degree chemical burns as a result of excessive contact with concrete and one employee has even needed skin grafts on both ankles. As a result of their injuries, both men were left in severe discomfort and unable to return to work.

James Hickman, an HSE inspector, commented:

“This was an entirely preventable incident that left two workers with serious and extremely painful chemical burn injuries.”

“The risks associated with working with wet concrete are well known and the necessary control measures to protect workers are easily achievable…He fell well short of the required standards expected of a competent principal contractor, and I hope his conviction sends a clear message to others.”

If you have been injured in your workplace or know someone who has then please call our specialist solicitors now on 0800 089 4444 to ensure accidents don’t happen again. You may be entitled to work accident compensation for any pain or distress you have received as a result of your injury.