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    EXOTHERMIC CHEMICAL REACTION INJURES PLUMBER

    Sulphuric acid erupts during routine drain clearing operations

    City Response Ltd has been prosecuted under the COSHH Regulations after a workman suffered acid burns to his face, neck and arm.

    Neil Kelly, from Bury, was using a high concentration of sulphuric acid to unblock a sink at a domestic property when the corrosive liquid erupted in December 2009.

    Trafford Magistrates heard that Me Kelly was not provided with appropriate protective clothing, training or supervision on how to safely use the sink unblocker. The substance comprised 96 percent sulphuric acid.

    The ‘eruption’ occured as he reached over the sink to turn on the tap. The substance mixed with water in an exothermic explosion. Acid hit the ceiling and rained down on him, burning through his paper overalls. He was off work for more than two months due to the extent of his injuries.

    Firms must carry out regular checks

    City Response Ltd of Chadderton admitted breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 by not adequately controlling the exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,965 in prosecution costs on 3 March 2011.

    Sarah Taylor, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

    “City Response allowed one of its employees to use dangerous chemicals without anyone making sure he was working safely. As a result, he suffered severe acid burns to his face and body.

    The company should have made sure he used appropriate protective clothing, instead of the paper overalls which were dissolved by the acid. He should also have received training on using the chemical.

    Property maintenance firms must carry out regular checks on the work their employees are doing while they’re away from their normal base, especially if they’re expected to work with dangerous chemicals.”

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