A Tyneside autoparts firm has been fined after a worker lost his sight in one eye when a compressed air hose whipped him in the face.
The injured man, who has asked not to be named, was carrying out maintenance work to clean a paint fume filter at Faltec Europe Ltd’s site in Boldon on 7 July 2012.
When he had finished, he isolated the compressed air supply at the connection point and went to disconnect the equipment.
However, he was unaware the pressure from the flexible hose needed venting before disconnection. As a result, the hose whipped and struck him in the face, hitting his eye and breaking his cheekbone.
The 49 year-old, from South Shields has permanently lost the sight in his right eye but he has been able to return to work.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which today (10 June) prosecuted Faltec Europe Ltd for safety failings at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The HSE investigation found the company had failed to provide the worker with sufficient information, instruction or training on the equipment he was using when the incident happened.
Faltec Europe Ltd, of Didcot Way, Boldon Business Park, Tyne and Wear, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £7,813.70 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Fiona McGarry said:
“This was an entirely preventable incident which has resulted in a worker losing his sight in one eye – an injury which will affect him permanently.
“The sudden release of compressed air is a known hazard in industry. Faltec Europe Ltd should have ensured that there was a safe system of work in place and that anyone working with compressed air had been given sufficient information, instruction and training to keep themselves and others safe from air blasts and whipping or snaking hoses.”
Plus Safety comment: Pressure in any flexible hose if released suddenly will cause the hose to whip about. This is one of those common hazards which practically everyone knows about. It is no different at work. Basic maintenance procedures should dictate that all hoses and lines are vented before work starts.