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Health & Safety Executive fines UK company after worker suffers serious injuries following an explosion

05 November 2021

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has fined a company £26,000 after an explosion seriously injured a worker in September 2019. Fabric flameproofing company, Fabric Flare Solutions, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after an explosion at its premises in Suffolk, east England seriously injured a 51-year-old employee.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on the 24 September 2019, employees at Fabric Flare Solutions were treating fabrics with a hydrophobic coating that gave off flammable vapours both during the application process and when subsequently drying in the spray room. The flammable vapours ignited causing an explosion just as an employee was walking past the spray room. The blast threw him several metres across the factory and he suffered serious burn injuries to 15 per cent of his body.

An investigation by the HSE found that Fabric Flare Solutions failed to ensure the safety of its employees by not eliminating several sources of ignition in the spray room, including liquid petroleum gas space heaters, domestic light fittings, and other electrical equipment. The company had ignored the clear instruction on the safety data sheet for the substance to be kept away from sources of heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames, and other ignition sources.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,196.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Tim Underwood said: “Employers who handle, store or use flammable substances must consider the potential risk of fire and explosion and ensure they have robust procedures in place to assess and control risk at all times.

“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to fully assess the risk and implement safe systems of work.”

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