Machine in aluminium factory sprays molten metal onto worker… A worker at a factory in Worcester was badly injured after molten metal sprayed on him from the back of a machine causing severe burns.
The 41 year old Worcester man was working on a die cast machine when molten metal suddenly sprayed him on 27 July 2010 at the company aluminium company premises on Droitwich Road, Worcester.
The molten metal burned immediately through the clothing of the man on impact as the 650 degrees Celsius substance inflicted serious burns on the man’s right arm and shoulder, face and leg. The man continues to receive treatment for the burns he suffered and also now has scarring on his hand and leg.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the back of the machine was unguarded and although the accident victim had been wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), it was not of sufficient quality to protect against molten metal spray. Furthermore personal protective equipment is not regarded as a substitute for effective guarding of dangerous machinery, rather it is just an additional safety buffer. In this case however the lack of any kind of guarding as well as the poor quality of the man’s PPE meant that the accident could not be prevented.
Worcester Magistrates’ Court heard that this wasn’t the first time an incident of this nature at the aluminium company as three similar incidents of molten metal blow-backs had occurred at the factory in the recent past including one in December 2009, just seven months before the incident now being prosecuted by the HSE.
HSE inspector Tariq Khan commented after the hearing:
“Despite three previous incidents, one of which caused serious injuries to another worker, JVM Castings failed to learn from them and did not follow the recommendations of its own investigation.
“Although blow backs of molten aluminium are potentially foreseeable, when they do happen, they are unpredictable events. A blow back happens when the tip of the ram used to inject the metal into the casting fails. They always pose a high risk to workers because liquid metal under pressure can be thrown over a wide area around the machine.
“The company’s risk assessment had identified blow backs as a danger but did not include any measures to remove or reduce the risk. As a result of the company’s failings, a man has suffered serious injuries which could easily have been avoided.”
The aluminium company pleaded guilty today to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs.