The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a Manchester-based paint manufacturing company, after a worker suffered burns while trying to clean the floor of a spray booth.
An employee of HMG Paints Ltd was using a highly flammable solvent to clean the floor of a spray booth on site – a job he had done several times since the spray booth was installed – and after complaints about how difficult it was to remove the dried paint, he was allowed to purchase an industrial floor scrubber to carry out the task.
However, on 18 November 2014, the electric motor on the floor scrubber ignited the cloud of flammable vapour that had built up in the spray booth and the employee was seriously injured, sustaining 26% burns to his body. He was treated at the specialist burns unit at Wythenshawe Hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the planning for cleaning floors using solvent had failed to recognise the hazards and level of risk associated with the use of highly flammable solvents to clean floors.
The employee who was injured had not been trained to clean floors – and was not adequately supervised when carrying out the cleaning activity.
At Manchester Crown Court, HMG Paints Limited of Collyhurst Road in Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,669.40.
After the case, HSE inspector David Myrtle said:
“This is a company that handles large quantities of flammable solvent, the hazards are well known – and the company has a duty to control the risks arising from the hazards.
“It was custom and practice to clean floors using highly flammable solvents applied using a mop and bucket.
“In this instance, the company failed to adequately control the risks and an employee was seriously injured.”
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