A car dealership has been fined £4,000 after a teenage boy on work experience suffered agonising burns to his eye and face after being splashed with paint stripper acid.
Bret Thomas had not been wearing any goggles or other safety equipment, apart from gloves, when the acid landed on him at Cannock's Motorhouse 2000 Ltd.
The Cannock Chase High School, now aged 17, will suffer migraines for life as a result of the injuries.
Stafford Magistrates Court heard yesterday how Bret had been on prolonged work experience for three days a week, combining it with his studies.
Mrs Katherine Blunt, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said the teen had been working at the Wolverhampton Road company, which buys, sells and repairs vehicles, when the accident happened on January 18 last year.
The court heard he had been asked to help another employee with refilling the wheel stripping tank. The worker poured toxic paint stripper from plastic containers into a tank, before passing them to Bret and asking him to remove all the labels and cut them up before they were thrown away.
But as the youngster was cutting the final one with a knife, the container "buckled" and the acid flicked up on to him.
He was screaming in pain saying his face and eyes hurt but it was only when he knocked into something staff realised he was not joking about and they went to help him.
He was taken to Cannock Hospital before seeing an eye specialist at New Cross Hospital. Mrs Blunt said it was around a month before his sight returned for him to go outside but he needed to be accompanied and wear sunglasses.
Mr Matthew Taylor, defending, said Motorhouse 2000 had been running over a number of sites for 13 years and had never been subject to any action by the HSE. He said the firm no longer does work experience and entered an early guilty plea to contravening regulation 19 of the management of health and safety at work.
Chair of the magistrates Mr Anthony Higgs said Bret had been exposed to foreseeable risks and staff should have been aware of the damage the chemicals would cause.
Along with the fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £6,319 and a victim surcharge of £15.
Speaking after the case, Mrs Blunt said: “Work experience is very important for young people in order for them to gain an understanding of the world of work. However, employers must fulfil their responsibilities to assess risks and protect young people by putting the appropriate control measures in place."
Speaking last year to the Express & Star, Bret said he should not have been asked to do the job and he had been left traumatised by the accident.