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Worker seriously burnt in dust explosion

Author : Amy Hollamby

09 February 2010

Chromalloy UK, a technology company based in Nottingham has been fined nearly £50,000 for health and safety lapses at its premises in Derbyshire in October 2007, after a worker was seriously burnt in a dust explosion.

Derby Crown Court also ordered the firm to pay court costs of approximately £13,200.

Chromalloy UK pleaded guilty to breaching three regulations of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 at North East Derbyshire and Dales Magistrates' Court in December.

The court heard that on October 17th 2007, Gothard was preparing to mix metal treatment powders but while he was loading aluminium powder into the blender there was a dust explosion and a fireball hit him, setting fire to his overalls. Paul Gothard suffered serious burns to his hands, arm and face.

The explosion was caused by the ignition of aluminium powder inside the mixer, most likely to have been caused by a discharge of static electricity.

The original hose used with the mixer had a conductive metal strip but had been replaced by an all-plastic hose without the strip.

Employees at the firm, which overhauls gas turbine engines, had previously reported receiving static shocks from the hose.

HSE Inspector Noelle Walker said: "Mr Gothard suffered serious burns in this incident and he's been left with some permanent lack of function in his hand.

"Chromalloy failed to carry out assessments and control risks as required in relation to powdered aluminium, which is, an explosible dust.

"This case should send a clear message to other companies to make sure they protect their employees from fire and explosion risks in the workplace."

Employers are legally required to find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and the fire and explosion risks. They should also put measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them. Employers are also required to make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from these substances.

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