Firm fined after worker burned in "burning cloud" incident

By Adele Forrest | 18/08/2017

Firm fined after worker burned in 'burning cloud' incident

A SECURITY firm has been fined £140,000 after a worker suffered burns to her face and body after being engulfed in a “burning cloud”.

Pyronix Ltd, which admitted safety breaches at a hearing at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday, said it regretted the one-off incident.

The Hellaby firm, which manufactures intruder alarm equipment, was also ordered to pay costs of £3,133.

The company was founded in 1986 by businesswoman Julie Kenny, who sold to Chinese firm Hikvision in May last year.

The court heard that part of the manufacturing process involved dipping printed circuit boards (PCBs) in fluorocoat thin film coating, a highly flammable substance, to provide humidity protection.

In April 2015, a worker was dipping baskets containing a variety of the PCBs, which had batteries installed before the dipping process. 

As the worker removed a basket from the tank, she saw a “burning cloud” go through the tank and was unable to avoid being burnt after the fluorocoat had been ignited.

She suffered burns to her neck, chest and arms.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ruled that changes needed to be made in the planning of this job. 

As a result, modifications were made to the tank and process, which included installing batteries after dipping, as well as adding ventilation to the tank and measures to control static. 

Employees were also given additional training.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Hunter said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Laurence Kenny, marketing manager for Pyronix, said: “We genuinely regret this incident and any distress it caused.

“But it was clearly recognised that this represented an isolated occurrence in an otherwise unblemished and exemplary record in the management of the health, safety and well-being of its workforce.”

Mr Kenny, said the firm was “proud of its 30-year-record of investment in local staff and their continued health, safety and well-being”.

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