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Stressline fined for cement burn incident

Building products manufacturer Stressline has been fined after a worker suffered serious cement burns on his first day of work.
Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how a 21-year-old inexperienced agency worker – on his first day of full time employment – was exposed to alkaline cement slurry by standing in a drainage pit with inadequate Personal Protective Equipment.

The young worker suffered chemical burns to his feet and ankles. He required plastic surgery and his feet and lower legs are scarred for life. He was in hospital for three weeks.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident which occurred on 28th April 2014, found that the company had not appreciated that slurry from cured concrete dust posed the same risks as that from cement or wet uncured concrete.

They had no risk assessment for the slurry or suitable and sufficient controls to eliminate, reduce or control the risks. A mechanical system to remove slurry from the water pit would have prevented these life changing injuries.

In his statement provided to the Court, the worker said: “A year after the accident my feet are scarred. My right foot is worse than my left. I find it difficult still to walk. I don’t know how my feet will improve in the long term. I wouldn’t like anyone to go through what I have had to go through”.

Stressline Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,121.

HSE inspector Dr Richenda Dixon said after the hearing: “The risks from concrete and cement are well known in this industry. Companies need to protect agency workers as they are as likely to have injures in the first six months of employment as in the rest of their working lives.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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