The importance of Risk Assessments

A company have recently faced fines following an employee accident at work which had arisen as a result of a lack of any adequate risk assessment. Had the appropriate risk assessments been undertaken the employee would have been fully aware of the potential risks the work faced and thus could have avoided the accident which occurred. 

The incident arose when a folk lift worker was transporting molten slag (with an estimated temperature of 800 degree Celsius) across a warehouse. The container holding the slag fell off the fork lift, spilling over the floor. The slag ran into the drains and made contract with water, causing an explosion in the warehouse. Upon trying to escape, the employee landed in some slag. 

The Employee suffered extensive burns to the face, arm, chest, back and left foot, requiring months of treatment. The risk assessment had no identified that the container could have fallen from the fork lift and further failed to indicate the effect the slag would have when exposed to water.  

The risk assessment had indentified the risks of a small spill, but had never anticipated a large scale spillage of this nature, and thus pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined 10,000 as a result. 

Published: 14 May 2012

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