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3rd April 2024

INEOS Receives £400k Fine After Employee Suffers Chemical Burns

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INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth Ltd pled guilty to breaches of Section 2(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 following the incident at their site in Grangemouth, Scotland on 25th November 2019.

The injured party had been attempting to clear a sump containing a caustic solution that had reached its high-level threshold. The operation involved deploying hoses into the sump area and the operative therefore proceeded to step into the affected area.

The sump was covered by a grate, however, upon stepping onto it with his right leg, the grate gave way, submerging the worker’s leg into the solution. It was approximately 3 seconds before the worker was able to haul himself out of the solution and, despite treatment at a hospital burns unit in Livingston, permanent scarring was sustained and the individual was in pain for four weeks.

He subsequently returned to work in the following December.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation into the incident uncovered that INEOS had not developed a risk assessment or safe operating system for the clearance procedure. In addition, the grating was insecure and there were no additional barriers around the grated area to help prevent a fall into the sump.

Following the guilty plea, the company was fined £400,000 at Falkirk Sheriff Court earlier this month. HSE Inspector Lindsey Stein said: “The duties on employers to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks and to provide a safe system of work are absolute within health and safety legislation and well understood. The dangerous properties of caustic are widely known and this incident could so easily have been avoided with the implementation of straightforward control measures identified through assessment.”

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