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Firm fined after worker suffers serious burns

27-07-2012

A Nottinghamshire die-casting firm has been fined after an employee suffered severe burns when he fell into a furnace.

Keith Buckley, 59, from Mansfield, was removing equipment from the top of a magnesium furnace at Meridian Lightweight Technologies (UK) Ltd. in readiness for the removal of the inner lining when the incident occurred on 16 May 2011.

A pump and tube had been removed and the hole stuffed with a soft wool material. As Mr. Buckley walked across the top of the furnace his right foot went through the wool into the furnace, which was running at approximately 500 degrees.

His right foot became stuck in the magnesium melt but fortunately his shoe laces burned off, enabling him to push himself up and get his foot out of his boot and his leg out of the furnace.

Mr. Buckley suffered severe burns to his lower right leg and required several skin grafts. He also burned his right hand, and still finds gripping problematic. He recently returned to work on short hours and lighter duties, but is unable to do his original job.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had a written safe system of work, but it had never been seen by the people involved in the incident.

On 25 July, Mansfield Magistrates' Court heard that the system of work required the hole to be covered by a metal plate. Supervisors had not picked up that this was not being done, but dangerous practices were allowed to continue.

Meridian Lightweight Technologies (UK) Ltd., of Calladine Park, Orchard Way, Sutton-in-Ashfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for safety failings. The company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,472.

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