Solid Fuel Company found guilty by HSE

A company has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £5,115 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and also breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The HSE investigated a work accident where two employees received burns after scolding hot material, from an industrial drier tower, poured out of an inspection hatch on to them.

The company make coal briquettes and the court heard how staff was alerted to smoke coming from one of the towers which produce the briquettes. Workers tried to control the fire using hoses but when this failed it was decided to open an inspection hatch to let any dust out that might be causing a blockage. It is at this point that burning hot cinders poured out of the hatch on to two members of staff, causing burns to one man’s chest, neck and face but without causing serious injury. The second man tried to close the hatch to prevent further injury but he also became burnt by the hot coals and was injured more severely. He was showered for 30 minutes following the incident and then taken to hospital and received skin grafts to his back leg and hands as a consequence.

The HSE’s investigation found the company had failed to carry out suitable risk assessments for this kind of incident when working with dangerous industrial equipment and also failed to provide information, training and instructions on safe ways of working with the drier. There was also a need for comprehensive procedures to follow in the event of a fire.

Investigating HSE Inspector, said the employees:

“could have suffered far worse injuries or even death in this incident, which could have been prevented.”

“The drying process at the plant involved intensive heat so the risks of fire should have been obvious. There had been a fire at the plant previously involving a similar drying process.”

“Employers must make sure they have proper plans for dealing with emergency situations and that workers are trained to know what to do when something like a fire breaks out.”

If you have been injured and think you could be eligible for workplace accident claim then contact us now on 0800 089 4444 for a free no-obligation conversation with our specialist team. Alternatively complete our claim form to start your enquiry online.