Paper coating company fined after worker suffered burns

A paper coating company has been fined after a worker suffered burns following a fire on a coating machine.
factory machinery

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how an Olympic Varnish Company Limited employee suffered burn injuries following a fire caused by use of highly flammable liquid to clean rollers on a coating machine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on the 10th July 2015 found that the company did not ensure that risks from the use of highly flammable liquids was eliminated or reduced across a number of areas of that activity.

Olympic Varnish Company Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and has been fined £16,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £4,505.40.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Andrew Kingscott said:

“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to inform, instruct, and train their workers in that safe system of working. In this case, if a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

Phoenix comments:

This is a terrible incident that could have been avoided with suitable risk assessments, as required by Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), Regulation 5. Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from these risks to their safety in the workplace, and to members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity. DSEAR requires employers to:

  • Find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the risks are
  • Put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them
  • Put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances
  • Prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances
  • Make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances
  • Identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas

Further information is available from the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/dsear.htm#quick

It is important to identify hazards that are non-routine, such as maintenance, cleaning operations, changes in production cycles, breakdowns etc, as these may not have been previously considered in existing risk assessments. Introducing a process for capturing such non-routine activities and conducting a risk assessment is essential to reducing risks.