World's Largest Clay Brick Maker Fined After Fume Exposures

Wienerberger Ltd, based in Cheshire, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 following an incident on May 15, 2007 at its Todhills Works in Newfield, County Durham, which resulted in one of its employees being hospitalized. Bishop Auckland Magistrates' Court imposed total fines of £2,000 and ordered £8,516 in costs to be paid.

HSE Inspector Fiona MacNeill who investigated the incident, said, "It is vital for companies to carry out risk assessments if their employees are to be exposed to hazardous substances. In this case, Wienerberger Ltd did not make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk posed by fumes and gases generated by cutting galvanized steel dryer trams using oxy-acetylene, nor did they adequately control that exposure. Fumes from hot cutting galvanized steel contain zinc and are particularly hazardous to people and can cause illness."

Two employees were asked to do a 'one-off' job cutting up galvanized dryer trams using oxy-acetylene burning equipment. The trams are trolleys used to transport bricks through a dryer. However, Wienerberger Ltd neither carried out an assessment of the risks from metal fumes nor took steps to control any resultant exposure.

Both men received high exposures which led them to suffer symptoms of metal fume fever which are 'flu-like' and include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and pains in muscles and joints. Symptoms normally subside within 24 to 48 hours.

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2021

    November December 2021

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      How to Streamline Gas Detector Maintenance
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2021
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      How PPE Can Help You Deal with the Harsh Condition of Winter
    • HEARING PROTECTION
      Tackling Hearing Protection in the Workplace
    View This Issue