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Written by
on 28 September 2011


Copper Alloys, a foundry based in Stoke on Trent in the West Midlands, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after one of their workers was seriously injured. A 28 year old man, who has not wished to be named, suffered terrible burns caused by molten metal which was around 900 degrees Celsius.

Unprotected Pit Containing Molten Metal Mould – An Accident Waiting to Happen

On May 5 2010 the employee was using a tool which allows the workers to remove the impurities off the top of the poured casting. The pit which was where the cast mould is situated was unfenced, and when the worker tripped he very nearly fell into the mould.  Luckily with his quick thinking he used the tool he was working with to save himself. However, his arm was immersed into the molten metal and he was also injured by the hot impurities which he had recently removed from the top of the mould.

The Stoke on Trent employee suffered terrible burns on his left are as well as his upper legs. His injuries required skin grafts and now he is scarred for life. The worker is also extremely traumatised and therefore he is unable to return to his old job at the Copper Alloys foundry.

Investigation by the HSE Followed the Foundry Accident

After the incident the Health and Safety Executive visited the foundry and discovered that the pit containing the mould was not properly fitted out with the necessary guard rail.  The investigation also highlighted the company had not taking into account the extreme risks that a worker could easily fall into the moulds containing the molten metal.

At the court case Copper Alloys pleaded guilty to breaching the regulation of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations which states that all employers must ensure that any pit, structure or tank needs to be covered or fenced if there is any danger of an employee falling into a dangerous substance.  For this breach the court fined the firm £8000 and they were ordered to pay an additional £4798 in costs.

No Excuses for Breaches in Health and Safety Regulations

It is sad that cases like this are still happening in the West Midlands and all over the UK where health and safety services are easy to come by. By working with health and safety consultants the firm would have been made well aware of the risks that their workers were facing on a daily basis. A risk assessment would have showed the risks and the consultants could have explained the Workplace regulations to make sure that both the company and their workers remained safe at all times.

The employee who suffered the burns could very easily have died if it wasn’t for his quick thinking. As it stands his life has been changed forever and he will require physiotherapy for a long time in order to regain full use of his arm.  It is imperative that all firms where workers are working around dangerous substances are able to create safe working environments.

If you require assistance to discover if you are meeting all the demands of the laws and regulations it is advisable to contact the health and safety consultants. Veritas have a huge range of health and safety services which can mean the difference between life and death. Call 0800 1488 677 today and speak to the experts.

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.