County Durham firm fined over worker’s severe burns

Safety Forward Enforcement SupportA County Durham firm has been sentenced after a worker suffered serious burns to his face, hand and arm when he was struck by a jet of hot molten plastic.

John Calcutt was helping clear solidified plastic from a large plastic injection moulding machine at Ebac Ltd, in Newton Aycliffe, when the incident happened on 9 September 2013.

The 47-year-old, from Spennymoor, was struck across the left side of his face and his left hand and arm by the hot liquid plastic as it was ejected from the machine causing serious burns.

He was airlifted to hospital and kept in for three days. He is still receiving treatment and physiotherapy but has returned to work at Ebac Ltd.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today (27 Oct) prosecuted Ebac Ltd at Darlington Magistrates’ Court for serious safety failings after an investigation into the incident.

The court heard that at the start of the day’s shift a blockage was identified at the machine’s injection unit, where the raw material is fed into the machine, melted and mixed before being pumped into the mould cavity.

Mr Calcutt and two colleagues attempted to clear the blockage. Their focus was on clearing the blockage to get the machine working.

Mr Calcutt had not received any training in relation to clearing blockages on the machine and none of those involved in the task were wearing any form of eye or face protection.

HSE found that Ebac Ltd had not carried out an assessment of the risks to employees while clearing blockages on the feed / injection system and did not ensure workers were using personal protective equipment as required.

Ebac Ltd, of Ketton Way, AycliffeIndustrial Park, Newton Aycliffe, was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £770.10 in costs and £750 Victim Surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Victoria Wise, said:

“This incident could have been easily prevented if Ebac Ltd had a safe system of work in place for dealing with blockages.

“The potential for ejection of hot molten plastic is highlighted in the industry’s own guidance and this was a foreseeable risk that should have been part of the risk assessment process for clearing blockages.

“The company should have also had monitoring in place to ensure that its employees were using the appropriate personal protective equipment that had been provided.

“Instead, the firm’s failures mean a worker has suffered serious injuries.”