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Brian Cummins represents the bereaved Faulkner family, at a week long inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court.


Mr Faulkner’s demise followed a chemical exposure incident when working at ICL Limited, Essex, in 2015. He stood in a puddle of clear liquid assumed to be water. However, the Jury found such was chemical and had exposed him to Caustic Soda, which burnt his feet. He died 3½ years later as a result of medical complications arising from that Incident, which the jury determined was contributed towards by failures in his employer’s administration and management of its Permit to Work processes, and use of PPE.

Mr Faulkner had been wearing standard PPE footwear boots at the relevant time, under a Permit To Work issued to him.

The jury concluded the issued Permit to Work did not specify rubber safety boots were required to be worn, and that an attempt was then made, after the event to retrospectively amend that Permit, to suggest rubber boots and a chemical suit were in fact required for the planned works.

Furthermore, they also concluded that when Mr Faulkner suspected he may have suffered such burns, he did not initially report the incident to his managers for fear of losing his job. Evidence suggested this was the work culture prevailing at the time.

In a series of complicated circumstances of medical causation, the jury concluded: the chemical burns to his feet had led to flu-like symptoms, fatigue, respiratory issues, and sepsis. He was later admitted to hospital where he suffered a heart attack, and a pulmonary embolism treated with anti-coagulant medication. Expert evidence indicated such medication had likely led to spinal bleeding, which the jury concluded was the cause of his subsequent quadriplegia.  Spinal surgery, tracheotomy and ventilator dependence ensued, with hospital admittance’s for several months, and periods of discharge home with 24/7 care needs, renal failure, and repeated infections over the ensuing years.

Mr Faulkner was admitted to hospital for severe pneumonia in February 2019 and passed away in early March 2019.

The Coroner noted the HSE declined to investigate the incident for several years, such that this hampered the Police evidentially, when they sought to investigate matters after Mr Faulkner’s demise. She has now ordered a PFD letter to be sent to the HSE, in respect of their omission to investigate and the scope of their criteria for doing so.

A fatal accident civil claim continues against ICL Limited, by Irwin Mitchell LLP Solicitors on behalf of the Faulkner family.

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