Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 14:49 UK

College fined after acid shower

A college has been fined 14,000 after it failed to ensure the safety of a lecturer who suffered severe burns when an acid mix exploded over him.

Gary Baird, 45, was showered with the dangerous combination of concentrated nitric acid and ethanol at the City of Bristol College in May 2006.

He required two separate skin grafts and an operation on his right hand.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the criminal prosecution at Bristol Magistrates' Court.

Mr Baird was trying to create Nital, a substance used by engineers to test a weld's durability.

One colleague described how he could hear Mr Baird sizzling
Nathan Peacey, prosecutor

The HSE found the City of Bristol College had not provided Mr Baird with adequate training to compose the agent.

Furthermore, senior staff were unaware he had attempted the mix unsupervised at his desk. Nathan Peacey, prosecuting for the HSE, said: "Mr Baird's last memory is undoing the bottle and turning to his right to get the reference book he had been using as a guide.

"He then noticed the surface of the acid was creating ripples - and then the bottle went bang. It covered him with acid and glass.

"One colleague described how he could hear Mr Baird sizzling, and could see his bone."

Robust procedures introduced

The college pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety at work of its employees including Mr Baird, and in particular failing to ensure safety with the use of hazardous substances.

Defending City of Bristol, Richard Bretton said the college "deeply regretted" the incident but had a "good record" of health and safety.

At the magistrates' court this morning the City of Bristol College publicly expressed its regret and sympathy to Mr Baird for the incident.

In a statement Richard Thorold, director of Estates and Resources at the college, said: "The college takes the health and safety of all its staff and students extremely seriously and our good health and safety record was recognised in court today.

"In light of the incident the college has significantly increased the resources available.

"This includes establishing a team of dedicated health and safety practitioners, a staff training programme at all levels across the college and we now have a very robust set of procedures to ensure an accident like this is not repeated."




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