I came across a safety story today while browsing the HSE’s website and I have to say, despite the serious message it carries, it did make me giggle a little.
A manufacturing company moved into a new office that had linoleum floors, and straight away a very high number of slip and trip accidents were being reported. The company safety advisor was tasked with trying to identify the problem and approached the manufacturer of the floor cleaning products they used. They too could not establish the causes of these accidents and the product had never created a problem like this before.
The safety advisor then spoke with the cleaner and established that she was using regular washing up liquid instead of the right cleaning product. The reason she gave was that the floor cleaner was located on a different floor and it was ‘inconvenient’ for her to go and get it!
Subsequently, the floor was cleaned with the right product and the problem was resolved. They now store bottles of the cleaning product on each floor so the cleaner is never ‘inconvenienced’ again!
This story led me to thinking about a chap by the name of Ken Woodward. Ken suffered a workplace accident that resulted in him losing both eyes as a result of mixing two cleaning chemicals. The chemicals reacted together and exploded in Ken’s face. The explosion was so forceful chemical residue was found on the ceiling above the accident site, some 70 feet high!
It was only the quick reactions by work colleagues that saved his life; manhandling him into a shower and holding him under the water despite Ken’s attempts to get out.
His employer at the time, Coca Cola Schweppes, was charged with a breach of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and subsequently fined. The company estimated the total cost of the accident at around £2.6 million.
It goes without saying, that in comparison, the cost to Coca Cola Schweppes of providing suitable eye protection and some basic safety awareness training would have been negligible. For Ken of course, the cost of this easily avoidable accident can never be calculated in financial terms. Faced with the loss of sight, his determination to live an active life and raise awareness of workplace safety is quite inspiring and well worth reading about at: http://kenwoodward.co.uk/kens-accident/
Since the use of chemicals in the workplace and at home is such common practice, it is easy to be complacent and think nothing of the risks associated with their use.
How many of us have actually read the label on the everyday products we use?
Would we know what to do in the event of an accident involving any of these substances?
What happens if they should become mixed together? Will they explode in your face, like they did Ken’s?
If you are unsure of the substances and chemicals you are using, read the labels. After all, that’s what they’re there for!
If you need further advice or wish to discuss your business requirements under the COSHH regulations please feel free to get in touch, one of our advisors will be more than happy to work with you to find a Simple Safety Solution