Royal Mail depot is fined after worker suffers serious injuries in chemical spill

Home Counties North mail sorting centre in Hemel Hempstead
Home Counties North mail sorting centre in Hemel Hempstead

A chemical spill which caused a Royal Mail worker to undergo skin graft treatment has resulted in a £40,000 fine for Hemel Hempstead’s post sorting centre.

Dacorum Borough Council ‘s legal department prosecuted the Home Counties North mail depot, based on Maylands Avenue, for health and safety breaches relating to the incident which took place last year.

Appearing before Watford Magistrates Court on Friday, Royal Mail pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act, and was handed the maximum possible fine from magistrates of £20,000 for each separate breach.

An investigation by the local authority’s environmental health officers found that an employee from the industrial estate site suffered severe chemical burns to his leg while cleaning oon January 28, 2014.

The inquiry showed the company failed to carry out risk assessments which may have shown that the dispensing pump for the cleaning chemical was defective.

The cleaning liquid leaked, causing the concentrated cleaning chemical to spill on to the worker’s leg.

The incident resulted in immediate hospital treatment and skin grafts.

The victim required eight months off work to recover from his substantial injuries.

The borough council is now urging other companies and businesses across Dacorum to remember their duty of care to employees following the breach.

Councillor Neil Harden, who holds the portfolio for residents and regulatory services said: “It is important all businesses take health and safety seriously and ensure that risks in the workplace are effectively controlled and it was important we took this action given the serious nature of the injuries.

“We are pleased that Royal Mail has changed its procedures and now operates a safer vehicle cleaning operation.”

Dacorum Borough Council explained its environmental health officers have an important role in protecting and securing the health and safety of all employees working across the borough – and warned they will not hesitate to take action where businesses fail in their duty of care.

For more information on regulations for health and safety in the workplace, visit www.hse.gov.uk.