Workers Suffer Burns After Prolonged Exposure To Concrete

Welfare Facilities Were "Wholly Inadequate"

13.03.2014

A builder has been fined after two labourers suffered second degree chemical burns while attempting to lay concrete.

Geoffrey Cinko, aged 55, of East Sheen in London was given a £10,000 penalty and ordered to pay the same amount in costs by magistrates in Westminster.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that two labourers were injured after working for more than four hours in wet concrete.

Although it is a common building material, many people do not realise that concrete is a strong alkali that can cause serious burns or ulcers.

Having been laying concrete on a basement floor for around three hours, one of the men complained of pains in his legs. However, the HSE described the onsite welfare facilities as "wholly inadequate" and he was unable to wash the material off.

Both of the labourers had to receive hospital treatment that evening and they were unable to return to work. One of them was forced to have skin grafts, such was the extent of the burns.

Mr Cinko had employed the workers to help demolish five garages in East Sheen and build two houses in their place, but he failed to provide them with suitable protective gear, which in this case would have consisted of boots that offered protection up to the knee.

Neither of the labourers had been briefed on the risks involved when working with concrete either.

The HSE has clear guidance for using this building material. Not only can it cause skin diseases such as dermatitis, the dust can also lead to serious respiratory problems when hard pieces are broken up.

Following the court hearing, HSE inspector James Hickman said this was an "entirely preventable" accident that left two workers with serious and painful injuries.

He added that Mr Cinko "fell well short" of the safety standards that were needed for this job.

"The risks associated with working with wet concrete are well known and the necessary control measures to protect workers are easily achievable," Mr Hickman commented.

"Yet they received no protection whatsoever from Mr Cinko, who showed a blatant disregard for their safety and welfare."