Warwick International LTD fined £12,000 after Factory Explosion

Thursday, 4th Sep '08 at 10:02

The Health and Safety Executive has warned the chemical industry to maintain their plant and ensure safe systems of work are in place after a North Wales company was prosecuted following an explosion and fire at their factory.

The incident, which occurred on 24 April 2006 at the Warwick International Group Ltd operation in Mostyn, Flintshire, caused extensive damage to the plant, although no-one was killed or injured.

Warwick International Group Ltd pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a charge under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and were fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £22,500 costs when they appeared for sentencing at Mold Magistrates Court today (Tuesday).

An investigation by HSE showed the initial dust explosion occurred within the granulation plant at the factory. , and spread to connected parts of the plant.The resulting fire spread rapidly throughout the building, taking firefighters several hours to bring under control.

The investigation showed that risk assessments had not been updated, and measures to prevent or mitigate an explosion in the granulation plant had also not been taken, putting employees at risk.

After the hearing, HSE investigating inspector Jo-Anne Michael said: “This incident was entirely foreseeable and avoidable, and it is extremely lucky that no-one was hurt as a result”.

“While the company took action quickly following the incident, our investigation showed that this was a continuing breach and they could, and should, have taken measures several years before to prevent this happening.”

Dust explosions are not new and records from over 100 years ago exist of incidents that have resulted in large loss of life and considerable and costly damage to plant. The HSE publishes an expert guide, "Safe handling of combustible dusts – precautions against explosions", which offers helpful advice, on the prevention and mitigation of dust explosions and fires, and illustrates the effects that dust explosions can have.

  1. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 says “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health safety and welfare at work of all its employees.
  2. Safe handling of combustible dusts: Precautions against explosions HSG 103 ISBN 0-7176-2726-8, provides practical advice on the prevention and mitigation of dust explosions and fires. The publication outlines the relevant legislation and illustrates the effect that dust explosions can have.
  3. For advice and information on health and safety in the workplace, contact the Health and Safety Executive on 0845 3450055 or visit www.hse.gov.uk or contact your local authority.
  4. Public enquiries: HSE's InfoLine - 0845 3450055 Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly CF83 3GG
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