Worker Exposed To Radiation At Hartlepool Site

Company Fined £30,000 For Failing To Safeguard Employees


A Redcar man suffered radiation burns to his hand while working at a facility in Hartlepool.

The unnamed individual was an employee of Mistras ETS, which is based in Cambridgeshire, and the company has been fined £30,000 for failing to adequately protect its staff.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the man was exposed to more radiation than is safe for an entire year as he set about his job at premises on the Graythorpe Industrial Estate.

It emerged that a separate team of workers entered his radiation bay in order to test safety equipment and warning beacons - a task that required them to use x-rays. The HSE found the team had to turn off safety controls within the bay and they had not used this method before.

The injured man remained in the danger zone while the x-ray was energised, leaving him with severe tissue damage in three of his fingers.

Although he has been able to return to work since the incident took place on September 19th 2012, he still has numb fingers and he was forced to undergo extensive surgery following the accident.

While incidents of this nature are rare in the UK, the HSE has warned that any work involving x-rays or other forms of radiation has the potential to cause fatalities and serious injuries. The regulator has set out clear guidelines on its website for employers to follow.

Mistras ETS pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 11(1) of the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999 during a hearing at Teesside Crown Court.

HSE inspector Paul Wilson said the incident could have been easily prevented had the firm introduced a proper system for carrying out the work and not relied on employees to do the job on an ad hoc basis.

"The level of x-ray radiation to which this worker was exposed was capable of causing serious ill-health, including the potential for death if the x-rays had hit vital organs of his body," he commented.

"Deviation from agreed safety protocol had become commonplace and on this occasion an employee was exposed to dangerous levels of x-ray radiation because important safety devices had been turned off."