Chemical burns victim felt like he was ‘on fire’ after pie factory accident

These are the horrific injuries suffered by a factory worker after he was doused by boiling water and caustic soda.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 7:18 am
Chris McCormack face was damaged by the hot water and chemical spill.
Chris McCormack face was damaged by the hot water and chemical spill.

Chris McCormack was working as a team leader for the pie and butchers firm Dicksons at its factory in Middlefields Industrial Estate in South Shields when the contents of a large cooking vessel - holding around 400 litres of fluid - “gushed” over him.

Fifteen months on from the incident, the 24-year-old says he still suffers pain and discomfort and the incident has left him with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Chris McCormack's leg pictured after the chemical spill.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chris, who lives in Jarrow, decided to speak out about his ordeal after MI Dickson LTD - which has 30 shops across the North East - after the company was issued with a notification of contravention (NoC) letter by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) detailing the laws it has broken.

Read more: South Shields firm ordered to improve worker safety after failings found following ‘chemical incident’The firm has come to an out of court settlement with Chris, who now works at a cash and carry.

He spent two weeks in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary after the December 2017 spill as he was treated for 20% burns to his face, back and leg caused by the water and chemical mixture.

It was being used to clean the inside of the container from grease and food build-up.

The Dickson's factory in Middlefields Industrial Estate

Related: Worker is hurt in South Shields factory accidentChris, who has undergone counselling to help him come to terms with what happened, said: “I went to open the kettle, as it said it was safe to do so, and to check the inside was clean ready for the next day,

“When I opened the kettle it made a strange rattling sound I knew something was wrong I started backing up from the machinery.

“Just as well I did. The lid opened and started gushing out boiling hot chemical water all over the room and it caught the right side of my body.

“I just remember feeling like I was going to die and felt like I was on fire, literally. It still haunts me to this day.”

Chris McCormack pictured after the chemical spill incident at MI Dickson's LTD in December 2017.

Chris says he feels he was “forgotten about” by company bosses in the aftermath of the incident.

He said: “I just feel like it should never have happened. It still hurts when I have to do a lot of bending. I have discharged from hospital, I still go to the scar clinic to get reviewed.

“I was in hospital for two weeks and left with PTSD and severe depression for almost a year.

“I went to counselling and that really helped me a lot and having a supportive family around me.”

Chris McCormack pictured after the chemical spill incident at MI Dickson's LTD in December 2017.

Chris Hayman, managing director of MI Dickson, said: “Following the accident, MI Dickson was subject to a full investigation by the Health and Safety Executive of our South Shields production facility over an eight-month period.

“MI Dickson was not prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive and in July 2018 was issued with a notice of contravention highlighting improvements to be made to the factory environment and our internal systems, which we are implementing.

“We are sympathetic to the injuries experienced by Mr McCormack and every effort was taken to provide support in the period following the accident.

“Mr McCormack was contacted by the business on several occasions both in hospital and at home to offer physical, psychological and financial support.

“Mr McCormack made the decision to terminate his employment and resigned from his role at MI Dickson.

“Subsequently, a financial settlement was offered to Mr McCormack, which has now been accepted.

Chris McCormack

“MI Dickson cooperated fully with both the health and safety executive and Mr McCormack, both during the investigation into the accident and its subsequent conclusion and we remain wholly committed to the safety of our customers and employees going forward.”

Chris McCormack