Dairy farm fined after worker blinded by chemicals

A dairy farm has been prosecuted after a faulty chemicals pump sprayer ruptured into a worker’s face, blinding him for life. 

Beechdean Farm Ltd, part of the Beechdean Group, must pay more than £19,000 for health and safety breaches following the incident in August 2017.

The fine follows an incident in which an employee was permanently blinded by corrosive chemicals used in cleaning.

See also: Tougher penalties for farm health and safety breaches

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard that the employee was cleaning the walls of the dairy at Old House Farm in North Dean, Buckinghamshire, using a corrosive disinfectant DM CiD, which contains potassium hydroxide.

The pump sprayer being used for cleaning unexpectedly developed a fault. It ruptured into the worker’s face, covering it in the caustic and corrosive disinfectant, rendering him permanently blind in both eyes.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Beechdean Farm failed to plan and supervise the use of chemicals for cleaning the dairy and did not have effective emergency arrangements in place.

Beechdean Farm pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,879.94.

HSE: ‘easily avoided’

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “While it was possible for both the pump sprayer and the chemical to be used for cleaning, this incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing correct control measures, safe working practices and appropriate emergency arrangements.

“Agriculture is an industry with a high accident rate, and the chemicals and activity involved in this incident are common in dairy farming, so this case should send a message to farms about the dangers of working with chemicals.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”