City Response fined after worker suffers acid burns

A property maintenance firm has been sentenced after one of its employees suffered acid burns to his face, neck and arm at a house in Heywood.

Neil Kelly, from Bury, was using a high concentration of sulphuric acid to unblock a sink at a domestic property when the corrosive liquid erupted into the air.

The 52-year-old's employer, City Response, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive following the incident in Glencoe Close on 18 December 2009.

Trafford Magistrates' Court heard that the worker had not been given appropriate protective clothing, training or supervision on how to safely use the sink unblocker, which was made up of 96% sulphuric acid.

The HSE said the chemical erupted when he reached over the sink to turn on the tap, and it mixed with water in an exothermic explosion. The acid hit the ceiling and rained down on him, burning through his paper overalls. Kelly was off work for more than two months due to the extent of his injuries.

City Response admitted breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 by not adequately controlling the exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals.

The company, of Oldham Broadway Business Park in Chadderton, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,965 in prosecution costs on 3 March 2011.

Sarah Taylor, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: ""Property maintenance firms must carry out regular checks on the work their employees are doing while they're away from their normal base, especially if they're expected to work with dangerous chemicals."

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