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Paint manufacturer fined $75,750 after worker burnt while cleaning

Tuesday, 28 January, 2020 - 16:30
Incidents & prosecutions
New South Wales

An industrial paint mixing and manufacturing company in NSW was recently fined $75,750 for two breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and ordered to provide essential safety training to key staff after a worker was seriously burnt during cleaning activities.

The company was issued orders for the general managers and work health and safety officer to undertake safety training in due diligence, hazardous substances and electrical compliance in hazardous areas, said SafeWork NSW executive director, operations, Tony Williams.

“These training orders are significant as the judge recognised that a basic lack of safety awareness was what led to an ultimately avoidable situation,” Williams said.

“The risk was foreseeable and straightforward control measures could have been used to prevent the incident. The company was also ordered to develop a work health and safety plan that directs senior staff to implement the lessons learned through training in the workplace.”

The worker was using a highly flammable solvent, acetone, to clean a paint mixing vat when a static electrical charge caused a spontaneous ignition of the vapours.

The worker was standing half a metre from the vat when the explosion occurred and the incident was not reported to SafeWork NSW until seven days later.

“It is a duty holder’s responsibility to educate themselves on risk management,” Williams said.

“Simple measures that could have prevented a worker being injured include installing anti-static wheels on mixing vats, preventing acetone splash by decanting the hose on the side, reducing the flow rate on the hose and installing a switch that requires two people to operate the hose.

“And most importantly – providing comprehensive risk management training to all workers and senior staff.”