Distillery Fined after Worker is Injured in Fire
A distillery in Oldbury, West Midlands, has been fined following a fire in which an employee was seriously injured.
At the time of the incident, a highly flammable liquid – ethyl acetate – was being transported from a bulk storage tank into an intermediate bulk container. The liquid caught fire and engulfed a 21 year old worker, who suffered twenty percent burns to his hands, neck and head.
The fire at Alcohol Limited destroyed the distillery’s warehouse and also caused damage to nearby cars and houses.
Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) it was determined that the most likely cause of the fire was a ‘discharge of static electricity’ that would have been generated by the transfer of the highly flammable liquid.
Inspectors from the HSE also found there was a failure to properly inspect the equipment or supervise the systems of work in place. Furthermore it was found that there was poor maintenance of associated valves and pipework.
After pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Alcohols Limited, of Charringtons House, The Causeway, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,009.
HSE inspector Kieron Jones said after the hearing:
“Companies that fail to ensure the integrity of their safety critical equipment place their employees, members of the public, emergency services and their entire livelihood at risk of serious harm.
“Poor management of highly flammable liquids can have catastrophic results both for individuals and businesses.”
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Source: Health & Safety Executive