Hydrofluoric Acid – First Aid

Hydrofluoric acid – First Aid Case Study

Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is very corrosive, highly irritating and poisonous. HF burns can be severe and extremely painful, causing extensive damage to the skin and eyes, and to the mucous membranes if breathed or swallowed. HF is absorbed quickly and can cause widespread damage to the body and death. Any person contaminated with HF must have immediate first aid, followed by medical treatment as soon as possible. All laboratory personnel (not just those working with HF) should know where the first aid equipment is kept and how to carry out the first aid procedures for HF exposure

COSHH ToxicCOSHH Corrosive

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Safe isolation of plant and equipment – Part 2: Key Stages

Safe isolation of plant and equipment – Key Stages


This blog post follows on from Safe Isolation of Plant and Equipment, Part 1. In order to allow various processes such as: cleaning, maintenance, plant repair and modification to take place, safe isolation of plant and equipment is essential. This is not specifically covered by any health and safety legislation, although there are the usual, general legal drivers, such as: the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 (Section 2: duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, Section 3: duty to ensure the health and safety of non-employees), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (Regulation 3: duty to carry out risk assessments) as well as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2005 (DSEAR), etc.

Failures during the isolation and reinstatement of plant and equipment are a significant cause of loss of containment incidents and can lead to major accidents. There are eight key stages that should be considered in the isolation, and subsequent return to service, of plant and equipment:

  • Hazard identification
  • Risk assessment and selection of isolation scheme
  • Planning and preparation of equipment
  • Installation of isolation
  • Draining, venting, purging and flushing
  • Testing and monitoring effectiveness of the isolation
  • Carrying out the intrusive activity
  • Reinstatement of plant

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Increased risk of jail for H&S offences

Increased risk of jail for health and safety offences: 23 people received either an immediate or suspended custodial sentence between the beginning of February and mid-September, which is about three per month.

On 1 February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences came into force. To put this into perspective, 189 individuals were sentenced to the same penalty for health and safety offences between 1974, when the Health and Safety at Work Act came into force, and the end of January 2016, according to figures compiled by HSB. This equates to an average of less than five a year. That is a steep upward curve.

It has been commented by a lawyer from DWF that the change in the guidelines for judges and magistrates followed a shift in attitude among prosecuting authorities, which are increasingly likely to prosecute people for breaching safety law.

  • Between 2011 and 2014, there was a 400% increase in prosecutions against individuals.

There is an increased risk of jail. Of these 23 people who received immediate or suspended custodial sentences; ten were for gas safety offences; 20 were directors of small businesses or sole traders, and three were employees.

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tyre fitter injured injured in split rim explosion

Following the failure to carry out proper risk assessments and to implement simple and sensible control measures, a tyre maintenance company has been fined after a tyre exploded seriously injuring a worker.

Nottingham Crown Court heard an employee of Tyre Maintenance Limited went to the waste and recycling centre in Beeston to replace tyres on an excavator. It was during the process of removing two split rim tyres from the vehicle that there was an explosion of the inner of the two wheels on the front nearside of the vehicle.

The explosion pushed the outside tyre off with such force it propelled the tyre fitter into a metal fence over two metres behind, and he suffered significant injuries, including a serious head injury, from which he is still recovering.

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Asbestos Exposure – failure to carry out a survey

Asbestos exposure occurred when a Bolton nightclub owner failed to carry out a survey for asbestos before starting on the refurbishment of a local night club.

Once again, we are reporting on an avoidable asbestos exposure to workers.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how UK Night Life Limited and its sole director, Charles John McGrath, undertook the management of a refurbishment project between 1 August and 12 August 2015 on The Level Nightclub, Mawdsley Street, Bolton without an experienced contractor in place to manage the site. Up to 20 workers may have been exposed to deadly asbestos fibres for the club to open in time for Fresher’s week and an influx of students to the club.

The site first came to the attention of the HSE in August 2015 following a complaint from Bolton Council regarding unsafe construction works throughout the site. The HSE inspector served a total of three Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices, along with a Notification of Contravention for a foreseeable risk of asbestos exposure, a lack of competent site manager, risks of falls from height, unsuitable welfare facilities and inadequate fire safety precautions.

The company’s sole director, Charles McGrath, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 5(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined £5,720.00 with costs of £3,535.86.

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Drum explosion – residual vapours

A drum explosion occurred due to residual flammable substance. A Kent company who supplies road safety products has been fined after a worker suffered life-threatening injuries when a drum he was working on exploded.

Maidstone Crown Court heard how 41-year-old AF, an employee of Highway Care Limited, was using a plasma cutter to cut up a drum that had previously contained a flammable substance. AF suffered life-threatening injuries when the drum exploded in his face causing complex head and brain injuries. He has permanently lost vision in his right eye and now has very limited vision in his left eye.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred in August 2012 found that the company failed to ensure the health and safety of their employees.

Highway Care Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £660,000 and ordered to pay costs of £33,358.46

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