Factory worker who needed skin graft receives compensation03 October 2012
Burned at work
The 39-year-old from Somerset, needed a skin graft from his hip to repair the skin on his ankle and foot after it was burned by boiling water mixed with caustic acid during a workplace accident.
The quality controller for Brothers Drinks, ended up needing three months off work and extensive physiotherapy following the accident at the firm’s Shepton Mattlett factory.
He was checking the quality of the drinks being made in the factory when he stepped on the floor near a hose pipe draining boiling water mixed with caustic acid. The mixture was being drained from a bottling tank that had just been cleaned.
It was a cold morning and as a result of the use of hot water the room was steamy. The hosepipe was also the same shade of red as the floor and as a result he couldn’t see the pipe.
Still suffers from restricted movement
It wasn’t until the water spilled over the top of his steel-cap work shoes and onto his ankle and foot that he realised what had happened.
Immediately the skin on his right ankle and foot began blistering.
He was taken to hospital after the accident where he underwent the skin graft a month later. Over the next few weeks he was on crutches, was unable to drive, walk his dog or do any jobs around the house.
He has since been able to return to work but still suffers from restricted movement in his ankle and foot for which he receives regular physiotherapy.
Following the accident he contacted Thompsons Solicitors for advice about claiming compensation.
Risk assessment should have been carried out
Thompsons argued that Brothers Drinks should have carried out a risk assessment prior to emptying the bottling tank which would have highlighted the need for a safer way to drain the hot water away.
Brothers Drinks settled the claim out of court for £12,000.
The factory worker said: “When the water hit my ankle it was agonising. I knew I was badly injured but I never imagined that it would take me so long to recover. I still need physiotherapy but fortunately I’m seeing gradual improvement.
“I had no idea the hose pipe was on the walkway. It was the same colour as the floor and with the room being so full of steam I had no chance of seeing it. It seems crazy that a pipe pouring out hot water and caustic acid was allowed to be placed on the ground in an area that was a communal walkway.”
Kevin Digby from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Placing a red hose pipe on a red communal walkway and allowing a mixture of boiling hot water and caustic acid to be pumped out of it was a recipe for disaster. Our client didn’t stand a chance of making it through this dangerous obstacle course without injury. The fact the room was so steamy he couldn’t see properly made it even more treacherous.
“A simple risk assessment followed by creating a safe system of work would have ensured that this work could have been carried out without having to injure people in the process.”
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