The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned companies to ensure employees are provided with suitable protective equipment after a man suffered serious burns in an incident at a Leicester firm.
On 20 August 2007, 62-year-old Foundry Manager, Gordon Fowkes, was burnt by a blowback of molten metal as he removed a mould plug during a routine casting operation at Harrison Castings Ltd. He suffered serious burns to his hands and arms requiring several skin grafts. At one stage he was in theatre for five hours and was in hospital for five days. He has since returned to work with the full support of his employer.
The company, which operates from Gough Road, Leicester, was fined a total of £5,300 and ordered to pay £2,134.10 costs and £2,000 compensation to Mr Fowkes, at Leicester Magistrates' Court, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (1) of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 by failing to carry out an assessment on the suitability of gloves provided for staff use, and also breaching Regulation 10 (1) of the same Act by failing to ensure that personal protective equipment provided to employees was properly used.
The latter charge arose after an HSE Inspector visiting the company noted personal protective equipment was not being worn.
Munera Sidat, one of HM Inspectors responsible for Leicestershire, said:
"This was an incident that could have been easily prevented if Harrison Castings had provided Mr Fowkes with the correct type of gloves. Instead of foundry gloves which provide heat resistance, he was wearing rigger gloves which offered him very little protection. Not only did the molten metal permeate straight through the material, but the gloves were also so short that the liquid went up his jacket sleeves, making his burns worse.
"I hope this will serve as a reminder to employers and to managers who have specific responsibility for protective equipment that the safety of their staff is paramount and they have a duty to ensure the right equipment is provided for the right job."