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Company Fined After Worker Suffered Acid Burns

Mon, 12 Aug 2002

Company Fined After Worker Suffered Serious Acid Burns

Two companies have been fined a total of $20,000 after being prosecuted by the Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH).

The first, Jenkins Biolabs Limited has been fined $17,500, after a worker suffered serious acid burns to his face, arms and legs.

"The worker was adding 11 litres of concentrated sulphuric acid contained in an open bucket to a process vat", said Margaret Radford, Service Manager of OSH Canterbury West Coast Region.

"As he was lifting the bucket, he slipped and fell off the chair he was standing on. He suffered serious chemical burns to his face, arms and legs when he came into contact with the acid. After first aid treatment with cold water, he was taken to hospital by ambulance.

"Unfortunately, the victim has suffered serious burns, which continue to affect his daily life.

"The handling of sulphuric acid by bucket was inherently dangerous, and the worker had not been supplied with all the personal protective equipment required for handling sulphuric acid. There was no emergency shower in the workroom."

Another company operating at the same site, Soiltech Limited was fined $2,500 for exposing another worker to the same hazard. Fortunately, there was no accident or injury to this worker.

"If the hazards of handling corrosive substances had been identified and assessed, as required by the Health and Safety in Employment Act, then the dangers of handling concentrated acid by bucket would have been immediately apparent and suitable controls implemented."

"This prosecution and fine should serve to warn employers of the dangers of handling hazardous substances by unsafe methods" said Ms Radford.

The companies were sentenced today at the Christchurch District Court.


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