Paint Company Ordered to Pay £80,000 After an Employee Was Injured While Cleaning a Spray Booth

Never underestimate the importance of health and safety in the workplace. Failure to recognise hazards at work can cause major physical injury to your employees and cost your business thousands of pounds. As paint manufacturing company, HMG Paints found out this month.

On the 3rd of July, Manchester Crown Court fined Manchester based paint manufacturing company, HMG Paints ltd, for health and safety failings after a cleaner was injured while cleaning the floor of a spray booth.

Paint Company Ordered to Pay £80,000 After an Employee Was Injured While Cleaning a Spray Booth

Manchester Crown Court heard how an HMG Paints Ltd employee was using a highly flammable solvent to clean the floor of a spray booth on site, a job he did regularly since it was fitted.

After raising complaints about the difficulty of removing dried paint, the cleaner got approval to buy an industrial floor scrubber to do the task. However, on 18 November 2014, the scrubber’s electric motor ignited the cloud of flammable vapour that had accumulated in the spray booth and caused a flash fire. The employee suffered burns on his legs and had to be airlifted to the specialist burns unit at Wythenshawe Hospital.

After an investigation, the Health and Safety Executive concluded that HMG failed to recognise the danger and level of risk linked with the use of highly flammable solvents to clean floors. It specifically highlighted the company’s failure to train the employee on how to clean floors in places handling large quantities of flammable solvent and the inadequate supervision during the cleaning activity.

As a result of the investigation, the Manchester Crown Court ordered HMG Paints Ltd to pay £80,000 in fines for breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and £39,669.40 in legal cost.

It may sound ridiculous to require a company to train a cleaner on how to clean floors. However, in this case, it is necessary. The company handles huge amount of flammable solvent, and is well aware of the hazards. Therefore, it has a duty to control the risks arising from said hazards. Although it’s common practice for the company to clean floors with highly flammable solvent, they’ve always used mop and bucket which were unlikely to create sparks.

A simple health and safety assessment before using an industrial cleaner to carry out the task would have exposed the potential fire risk.

Follow this link to read the updated version of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work 1974.