Warrington Crown Court has fined a Widnes based chemical company after an explosion on 25 November 2011, left an employee with minor injuries.
The firm was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £80,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers.
An investigation held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the company, which produces catalysts for the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries, had modified one of its reactors. The court heard that the day after the modification, an explosion blew the reactor lid and other equipment through the factory roof.
The HSE told the court that a new seal had been fitted to the reactor but there had been no consideration into the risks of increased pressure inside the unit.
After the case was heard, HSE Inspector Mhairi Duffy said:
“The company should have carefully considered the risks of sealing the reactor but instead it continued with the production process and there was a major hydrogen explosion as a result.”
“Luckily, only one worker suffered minor injuries in the blast but the consequences could easily have been fatal.”