A manufacturing firm has been fined £7,500 after a worker suffered serious burns when he was hit in the face, hand and arm by hot molten plastic.
The incident occurred when John Calcutt, 47, was helping to clear solidified plastic from a blocked injection moulding machine at Ebac Ltd, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, alongside two colleagues.
Severe burn injuries
At the start of the day, a blockage was discovered at the machine’s injection unit. This is where the raw material is put into the machine to be melted down and mixed before being used to fill the mould cavity.
The trio of workers were then tasked with attempting to free up the blockage to get the machine operating fully again.
But the hot liquid ejected from the machine and Mr Calcutt, from Spennymoor, was hit on the left side of his face, hand and arm.
The incident led to Mr Calcutt suffering serious burn injuries and being airlifted to hospital for treatment, Darlington Magistrates Court heard.
Serious safety failings
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the firm had failed to carry out the correct safety procedures, including a risk assessment and supply of personal protective equipment.
Mr Calcutt had received no training on how to clear blockages on the machine and none of the workers were wearing eye or face protection, the findings of the HSE probe found.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation and on top of the fine it was ordered to pay £770 in costs and a £750 victim surcharge.
After the hearing HSE inspector Victoria Wise described it as a preventable accident that could have been avoided had a safe work system been put in place.
Since the incident on September 9, 2013, Mr Calcutt, who required three days’ hospital treatment, has returned to work at Ebac and continues to receive physiotherapy care.
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Date Published: October 31, 2014
Author: David Brown