Stoke foundry fined £8,000 for worker’s burns
A foundry in Stoke-on-Trent has been fined after a man was left with serious injuries after being burned by molten metal.
Copper Alloys Ltd was prosecuted after the 28-year-old worker suffered severe burns to his left arm and upper legs when he fell into an unfenced pit, which housed a mould containing molten metal with a temperature of over 900 degrees celsius.
The man, who does not want to be named, needed skin grafts on his injured limbs, which remain scarred, following the incident on 5 May 2010.
During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Fenton Magistrates’ Court heard the worker is still undergoing physiotherapy for restricted movement in his arm, hand and fingers, and is so traumatised by the experience he has not been able to return to any work at the foundry.
The man had been using a long-handled tool to scrape impurities from the top of a freshly poured casting when he tripped and fell into an unfenced gap between the metal mould and the pit in which the mould was sited.
He used the tool to try to stop himself from falling into the five foot deep pit, but landed on the edge of the mould and his arm was briefly immersed in the molten metal. His upper legs were burned on the impurities just scraped from the mould.
HSE’s investigation found there was no guard railing around the edge of the mould pit and the company had failed to recognise the risk of workers falling into the pit.
Copper Alloys Ltd, of Glendale Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted breaching Regulation 13(5) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,798 costs.
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, HSE inspector Grayam Barnes said:
“This incident has had a permanent, life-changing effect on an employee. He has been unable to return to work and still needs physiotherapy.
“This case highlights the consequences of failing to recognise dangers arising from an unfenced pit. Copper Alloys should have identified and mitigated the risk.
“Falling into the pit was foreseeable and likely to cause serious, or even fatal, injuries with the presence of molten metal in this work area.
“Companies, particularly those working with dangerous substances, must ensure they fit suitable guard railing or covers to protect their workers.”