A foundry has been sentenced for safety breaches after an employee suffered life-changing burns following an eruption of molten slag during a slag tipping procedure.
Telford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 21 February 2020, the slag was being poured into a container at Goodwin Steel Castings in Stoke-on-Trent. The container had been incorrectly stored outside during a period of stormy weather. Water accumulated in the container, though it was not visible to the naked eye. When the molten slag was poured into the container, it reacted with the water causing a violent eruption.
The employee, sustained burns to a third of his body including his face, neck, stomach, arms, legs and feet, which required multiple skin grafts.
An investigation by the health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the management of the slag containers was inadequate. They were regularly stored incorrectly outside with the open face up, allowing water ingress. The measures in place to inspect and ensure they were free from water contamination before use were also not adequate.
Goodwin Steel Castings Ltd of Ivy House Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £133,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,226.30
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Alex Nayar said: “This injury could easily have been prevented – the risk should have been identified and controls implemented.
“Relevant industry sectors are reminded of the need to ensure that all material and equipment likely to make contact with molten material is free from water contamination as far as they possibly can.”