Employer and contractor fined over health and safety breach

The employers of a welder who suffered serious burns to his face, neck and arms after boiling liquid exploded over him have been fined nearly £50,000 in costs by the Health and Safety Executive.

Terry Young was contracted by pipework installation company Brewchem International in May 2005, to carry out routine maintenance and cleaning work at Syral factory, formerly Tate & Lyle UK, in Greenwich.

He and four colleagues were opening up the factory’s evaporators – which concentrate liquids by boiling off water – for high-pressure jet cleaning. But during the process, there was an “uncontrolled release of large quantities of hot liquid”, which seriously injured Young.

After being rushed to an emergency shower, Young was airlifted to hospital where he was kept for seven days and treated for serious burns to his face, neck and arms.

The Health and Safety Executive found the factory had inadequate safety arrangements, and also found the contractors which employed Young had failed to check that the factory’s safety arrangements were sound.

On 13 June both comapines pleaded guilty to breaches of the Heath and Safety at Work Act 1974. Syral was fined £30,000, and costs of £6,500 were awarded against it. Brewchem International Ltd was fined £10,000 with costs of £2,000.

The Health and Safety Executive will launch a campaign to help employers conduct risk assessments in the workplace to avoid accidents on 24 June.

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