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Veolia fined for burns to 'vulnerable worker'

Waste management firm Veolia Environmental Services has been fined after a worker was seriously burned at EfW incinerator in London

The agency worker suffered 17% burns to his body from hot ash while cleaning a filtration hopper at the Deptford plant on 29 December 2009. He was in hospital for almost a month.

VES pleaded guilty at City of London Magistrates Court to a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act for supervisory failings that led to dangerous working practices. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,243.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company failed to follow its own policies and procedures. The court heard the worker spoke little English and had not been properly briefed.

HSE Inspector Kerry Williams said the “vulnerable worker” had not been given “basic information, training or supervision to allow him to complete his job safely.”

She added: “Veolia operates a high hazard site in Deptford and as such should ensure its systems are sufficiently robust to ensure people are not placed at unnecessary risk.”

A VES spokesperson said: “We deeply regret this incident and the injuries sustained by [the employee] and immediately put in place changes to our operating procedures to further improve our safety systems relating to any work carried out by contractors on site.

“As a company we are committed to the highest standards of health and safety and this remains our first priority as is evidenced by continual improvements in our safety performance.”

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