Health & Safety News

News added on 24.04.2018


Fire safety

Disastrous consequences stemmed from lack of safe system

An adhesives manufacturer has been fined after one of its workers was injured and its premises badly damaged. What caused the fire, and could it have been prevented?

A major fire broke out at the adhesives manufacturer’s premises when a worker used his own method of unloading and filtering a flammable glue product. The worker was untrained and was not being supervised at the time. A spark within the intermediate bulk container caused an explosion that spread burning glue around the factory. One employee was airlifted to hospital, where he received treatment for facial burns, and a colleague who tried to rescue him was treated with oxygen at the scene. A large section of the mixing area at the factory was destroyed, and production on site had to be halted for five months while the fire damage was repaired.

Prior to this incident, the HSE had taken enforcement action against Itac Ltd over its management of the risks of handling and storing flammable liquids. At the time of the incident, the firm had not taken the required steps set out in the improvement notices, leading to further enforcement action.

The firm had failed to establish a safe system of work for handling the flammable glue product. It had not trained the worker in how to unload and filter the mixture safely, nor had it provided him with information about the risks involved.

Itac Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to safeguard its workers under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £8,300.

This fire could have been prevented if the firm had established a safe system of work and ensured that it was followed. In the absence of a safe system of work and proper training, the worker was left to improvise, with disastrous consequences.

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