Grangemouth chemical firm fined £560,000 after worker left scarred for life

A long established chemical company has been forced to pay a fine of over £500,000 following a work-related incident which left an employee badly burned and scarred for life.

By James Trimble
Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:30 pm

CalaChem, based in Earl’s Road, Grangemouth appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court and pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company was subsequently fined £560,000.

It was found the firm failed to make a risk assessment regarding the dangers associated with pressurising a vessel below a chute of boiling water, and no control measures were put in place to remove the danger – which led to Falkirk man, Colin Brockie, sustaining severe burns which left him permanently scarred.

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Falkirk man Colin Brockie was severely burned and permanently scarred following the workplace incident at Grangemouth's CalaChem

A CalaChem spokesperson said: “We pleaded guilty in court to the case relating to injuries sustained by Mr Brockie when he was employed at CalaChem on March 4, 2016. Regrettably, Mr Brockie suffered severe scalding.

“We settled the civil claim with Mr Brockie in early 2019, and we remain fully committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all our employees.”

The incident at CalaChem happened when work was undertaken to clean down part of its Earl’s Road production plant. The process involved filling a chemical powder charging chute leading down to a reaction vessel with water that was brought to the boil by immersing a steam hose in it.

When the valve was opened, the pressure in the vessel was released and scalding water erupted, severely scalding Mr Brockie.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which stated “incremental changes” had been made to the cleaning process which were not subject to a review of the company’s risk assessment and no control measures were put in place to remove any danger.Following the incident, all the processes to clean down the plant were risk assessed to introduce new safer worker procedures.Speaking after the Falkirk Sheriff Court hearing, HSE inspector Gerard McCulloch said: “Those in control of working processes have a responsibility to assess the associated risks.

"If changes are made, which increase the level of risk, those in control of the workplace have a duty to reduce the risk back down to as low a level as reasonably practicable.

“If the decision to boil water in the chute instead of hosing it down with a cold water had been the subject of a risk assessment, the danger from the pressurised vessel below would have been identified prior to the incident.

"This would have prevented the employee severe injury and permanent disfigurement.”

After his horrific experience, Mr Brockie, a married father-of-two, spent over a month in the burns unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary to have his injuries treated.

Back in summer 2016 his daughter Rowan – then a pupil at Comely Park Primary School – was so grateful to the nurses for the care they were giving her dad she used her craft skills to create some keyrings, cufflinks and other items to sell to her family and friends.

The money raised from the endeavour totalled over £500 and was presented to the burns unit.

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