Coca-Cola payout to man after he had acid sprayed in eyes at Wakefield 41 site

Two day strike action Coca Cola Enterprises, Kenmore Road, Wakefield Industrial Park, Wakefield
Two day strike action Coca Cola Enterprises, Kenmore Road, Wakefield Industrial Park, Wakefield

A COCA Cola worker who had acid sprayed in his eyes at the company’s Wakefield plant has received compensation.

John Houghton, 56, feared he was blinded when a pipe burst, spraying caustic cleaning acid into his eyes at the plant at Wakefield 41 Industrial Park.

The incident happened when a colleague accidentally stood on the pipe and a defective clamp gave way, causing it to explode in his face.

He was rushed to hospital and his eyes were rinsed but Mr Houghton, of Huddersfield, could not see for three days.

He had to take four weeks off work to recover.

Mr Houghton regained his full eyesight but was left with scars from burns to his left shoulder and upper leg.

The Unite union instructed solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation. Thompsons Solicitors found Coca Cola had failed to carry out regular inspections on the pipe and its fittings.

Coca Cola admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for almost £6,000.

Mr Houghton said: “I was terrified I would never be able to see again. You hear about people being blinded by caustic acid and that was my worst fear. Fortunately the hospital was fantastic and was able to treat me quickly and my sight has recovered.”

Karen Reay from Unite the Union added: “Caustic cleaning solution can cause serious acid burns when in contact with skin and it must have been a very frightening experience for Mr Houghton, who was just getting on with his job.”

Coca Cola Enterprises said the Wakefield plant had a strong safety record it took the well-being of employees very seriously.

A spokesperson said: “This was an isolated incident which was investigated thoroughly to ensure we understood what happened and then changed our maintenance procedures to ensure such an accident does not happen again.

“Clearly, we are pleased that John has recovered from this incident and is back at work at our site.”