A food company has been fined £15,000 over an incident in which a worker suffered serious scald injuries to his arm.
Kerry Ingredients (UK) Ltd, of Parkview East Industrial Estate in Hartlepool, was also ordered to pay costs of £8,950.
The firm had admitted breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Magistrates in Hartlepool were told that 38-year-old Elver Alicarte was working on a cooking vessel that was being cleaned with a hot solution when the incident happened.
Hot solution released over arm
He was trying to reconnect a cap to pipework coming from the vessel when another worker used a switch to open the vessel’s outlet valve, resulting in the hot solution being released along the pipe and over his arm.
Mr Alicarte’s right forearm was scalded in the incident and he could not return to work for 14 days. He also had only limited movement in his right arm for a short period.
The court heard that the end cap Mr Alicarte was attempting to refit had probably been removed as part of the cleaning process and that the colleague who operated the switch did not know that Mr Alicarte was standing next to the pipework.
Incident ‘could have been prevented’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident and brought the prosecution against the food ingredients firm.
HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said Mr Alicarte’s injury “could and should” have been prevented, as he was carrying out an activity that was a frequent process in the company.
Kerry Ingredients failed to properly assess “the risks involved” and could have prevented the injury by putting “simple control measures in place”, he said.
Mr Wills said the firm should have a procedure that blocks the valve from opening while there are other people close by.