Blog - Accidents at Work

Man Suffers Burns after being Covered in Toxic Chemical

A man suffered serious burns after he accidentally came into contact with toxic chemicals at work.

The incident happened to Michael Reid of North Shields, whilst he was employed by DMI (UK) Ltd. The 66 year old was employed as an electroplater, and had worked at the company for almost 48 years before the accident occurred in January 2011.

Part of the electroplating process involves using a tank filled with sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide (also known as lye or caustic soda) is a strong alkaline substance that causes burns if it comes into contact with the skin.

The tank used in the electroplating process needed topping up with a concentrate sodium hydroxide based chemical. Mr Reid was attempting to do this by pumping it from a drum into the tank. However, the hose of the pump broke off causing Mr Reid to be soaked by the chemical.

He suffered burns to his legs and body in the incident that were so severe that he needed skin grafts. He spent two weeks in hospital recovering, and had to retire from his job.

The HSE investigation found that the hose had been attached to the pump with tape rather than a jubilee clip. The company had also failed to produce a risk assessment for the work and failed to adequately train staff in sodium hydroxide handling.

The firm is reported to have pleaded guilty to breaking health and safety regulations last week, and were fined £12,000.

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