According to recent reports by the HSE, a company in Birmingham has been fined after two employees sustained serious burns at work. It happened when flammable brake fluid ignited, causing a fire.
In the accident, two employees used brake cleaning fluid to clean the grease from the walls of a vehicle inspection pit in the workshop. Shortly after they had finished cleaning the walls there was a loud bang and the entire wall of the pit where the brake cleaner had been applied became engulfed in flames.
One employee managed to get out of the pit and ran to help his colleague whose clothing had caught fire, pulling him out of the pit and extinguishing the flames. Both employees received burns to their hands and legs. One sustained 60 per cent burns and had to undergo an emergency surgical procedure to relieve the pressure from the swelling which involved cutting either side of his shins on both legs and his left knuckle going down to his wrist. He subsequently underwent five skin graft operations on his left hand and both legs and spent six weeks in hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company failed to carry out a risk assessment to consider whether it was possible to eliminate or reduce the risk. They had not considered replacing the dangerous substance with another non-flammable substance or using a different work process. Jet-washing, a safe alternative, was already in use at the company’s other site.
Serious Burns at Work: Your Employer’s Responsibility
Every employer has a responsibility to provide safe working conditions for your long-term wellbeing. If it’s part of your job to work with chemicals and other substances, then your employer must take extra safety precautions to ensure you don’t suffer serious burns at work. This includes:
- Storing chemicals in a locked facility.
- Strictly controlling access to dangerous substances.
- Offering appropriate splatter guards for those working with fluids.
- Giving workers the proper protective equipment, such as heat resistant clothing, aprons, gloves, face masks and breathing apparatus.
- Providing a safe working environment such as:
- Displaying the appropriate warning stickers.
- Ventilating the work area properly.
- Immediate clean-up of any substance/chemical escapes or spills.
- Training staff on the proper handling and use of chemicals.
- Providing access to first aid facilities such as eye washing, burn cream and bandages.
Health and safety legislation like The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) address these conditions. You can find other legislation online to see if there are any other conditions linked with a real-life claim. Additionally, speak with The Compensation Experts to get a sense of whether you have a case for a serious burns at work claim.
How We Can Help
Here at The Compensation Experts, we work with solicitors who have years of experience dealing with personal injury claims. This includes serious burns at work. Contact us today by filling in our contact form. Or call us on 01614138765 to speak to one of our friendly experts.