Court case highlights the importance of COSHH

The manager of The New Conservatory bar in Leeds has admitted breaching health and safety regulations in Leeds Magistrates’ Court after he accidentally served a glass of caustic soda to a customer.

Mr David Caminal, from Spain, was in Yorkshire on business, when he entered The New Conservatory bar for a drink on his day off. The manager poured the 48-year-old Spaniard a glass of what he thought was Sunbeam beer from the bar tap and handed it over to Mr Caminal. He took a swig and instantly felt his throat burning before he collapsed.

Mr Caminal was taken to hospital where he was induced into a coma. He was later flown back to his homeland and underwent surgery to remove his oesophagus, which is an exceedingly dangerous procedure.

Landlord prosecuted for serving caustic soda instead of beer

Poor COSHH resulted in this incident


The beer line that contained the sodium hydroxide had been cleaned using that substance earlier that day but somehow there had been a miscommunication and the bar manager was not aware that the beer tap was still connected to sodium hydroxide and not Sunbeam beer.

Sam Green, prosecuting, said: “Mr Caminal sustained life-threatening and life-changing injuries. In short this incident happened because the defendant … failed to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure customers … were not exposed to risks to their health and safety…”

District Judge David Kitson handed the manager a personal fine of £20,000, a company fine of £5,000 and ordered the defendant to pay £17,859 in costs.