Young Workers

Work Experience Organisers : Case Studies from the HSE

Click here to go back to the Case Studies contents page.Case study 1

This employee had only started work three months before his accident. What happened?

When he started work, his initial tasks were not directly involved with galvanising but he was later sent to be trained by experienced galvanisers on how to lower baskets of small work into a galvanising bath using ropes suspended from pulleys. However, because of a shortage of labour, the training was not completed and lasted only a few hours. He was then used as a spare man and on occasions filled in for other workers by lowering baskets. He was issued with general purpose safety glasses and instructed to wear them when working near a galvanising bath and also rubber gloves with cotton backs and a denim hat. Visors and overalls were generally available but their use was not enforced.

Visors and overalls were generally available but their use was not enforced.

Sometimes, the baskets came partially free from their hangers while being immersed and had to be rehung. The way he was instructed to do this was to allow the basket to sink below the surface and then raise up on the one connected hook before rehooking the other. This sequence is important as work is always liable to have moisture trapped from the preflux treatment and while immersing this may result in water/molten metal explosion.

On the day of the accident the usual operator went home early and the young employee was asked by the foreman to take his place lowering in the baskets. This he did. The job in progress was small washers, noted for retaining water, and had to be done without the protective flux blanket in order for it to sink. This job was considered by the chargehand galvanisers unsuitable for a trainee without one-to-one supervision. He was not closely supervised and attempted to relocate a basket hanger before it had been immersed. While he was doing this, an eruption of molten zinc went onto his arm, face and hands. He was not wearing a visor or overall top and suffered multiple burns despite the safety glasses, hat and gloves he wore.

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