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​Significant Fine for London Bar After Hazardous Incident

​Significant Fine for London Bar After Hazardous Incident

Posted by Emma on 20th Dec 2023

In a severe breach of health and safety regulations, Tiger Tiger, a well-known bar and nightclub in London's West End, has received a £120,000 fine. This penalty comes after the establishment inadvertently served caustic soda to customers instead of salt alongside tequila shots, resulting in hospitalisation for four individuals.

The incident occurred on December 7, 2021, when Tiger Tiger in Haymarket patrons ordered tequila shots. In the absence of salt, a bartender mistakenly used caustic soda, a potent cleaning agent, which he scooped from an unmarked container in a dimly lit area behind the bar. The patrons, unaware of the error, consumed the hazardous substance, leading to immediate health complications.

Caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide, poses severe risks when it comes into contact with human skin or is inhaled. It's a highly corrosive substance, capable of causing deep chemical burns, permanent scarring, and even blindness if it contacts the eyes. Skin exposure can result in pain, redness, and severe burns, requiring immediate medical attention. Inhalation of its fumes can harm the respiratory system, leading to difficulty breathing and potential lung damage. Due to its extreme alkalinity, it can also cause internal injuries if ingested, including severe damage to the mouth, throat, oesophagus, and stomach. Hence, handling caustic soda necessitates stringent safety precautions, including protective gear and rigorous adherence to safety protocols.

This mistake was realised too late, even affecting the bartender, who suffered burns to his mouth and tongue upon tasting the substance. A subsequent investigation by the police confirmed the presence of a caustic soda container at the scene, with the substance having a dangerously high PH level of 13.

On December 14, at Westminster Magistrates Court, Tiger Tiger acknowledged its failure to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act by pleading guilty to four charges. Cllr Aicha Less, Westminster City Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, public protection, and licensing, emphasised the severe consequences of neglecting basic safety measures. She expressed hope that the substantial fine would serve as a deterrent to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Westminster City Council's Health and Safety Team is committed to ensuring high safety standards and educating staff on safe practices across businesses in the city. This incident underscores the critical need for rigorous health and safety protocols in the hospitality industry, especially regarding the handling of potentially hazardous materials.