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Written by
on 09 August 2011


One of the many brewery firms based in Burton-on-Trent was prosecuted at Cannock Magistrates Court last week. The Health and Safety Executive decided to prosecute after three sub-contractors working at Molson Coors Brewing Company were seriously injured.

The workers were a specialist engineers and were asked to come and carry out some maintenance.  While they were working to repair one of the valves approximately 6000 litres of caustic soda was released from a detergent tank and spilled from the tank.

During the incident the three subcontractors were all injured as they were covered completely by the caustic soda.  One of the men was blinded temporarily; the other has had to cope with suffering 25 per cent burns.  This has left him for sensitive scarring and problems coping with any sort of heat.  The final sub-contractor had minor burns and also suffered with some irritation to his eyes.

Health and Safety Services Could Have Been Beneficial

One of the ways that health and safety consultants can prevent accidents from occurring is by providing training.  This is available for workers and company owners at all levels.  Had Molson Coors undertaken the training health and safety services they could have perhaps prevented the accident from happening.

Lack of Information for Contractors

The Inspectors told Cannock Magistrates Court about what they discovered after the caustic soda incident.  According to their findings they told the court that the three sub-contractors were not provided with detail instructions to help them carry out the job safely.  The other area of concern was the lack of protective items which would be required for such work.

Health and Safety Consultants Can Help Ensure Worker Safety

The sub-contractors were provided with visors to wear and some overalls.  The problem was that the overalls were not made of anything which could have protected the men from the chemical.  Cloth is not a good enough material to wear while carrying out that type of work and so the liquid soaked all the way through.

The Judge from Cannock Magistrates Court fined the Burton firm £14,000 and also ordered them to pay £43,674 in costs. The firm admitted their guilt of breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.  Section 3 states that it is the duty of every employer to ensure workers are not exposed to risks to their health.

Health and Safety Services Help Companies Follow the Laws and Regulations

After the case an Inspector, Lyn Spooner, spoke on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive.  Ms Spooner said that it was lucky that the caustic soda had been diluted otherwise the injuries would have been far more severe. The inspector went on to say that all companies need to make sure their subcontractors follow health and safety procedures.

Furthermore the health and safety of Molson Coors made the mistake of not undertaking a risk assessment before the contractors began their work.  Due to these lapses the three men were left injured and the company have been prosecuted.

To prevent incidents like this occurring in your work place contact Veritas and ask about their health and safety services. Call 0800 1488 677 and speak to the health and safety consultants today.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.