Firm fined £350k for factory explosion

A SUFFOLK company has been heavily fined following an explosion which left a worker with serious injuries.Storeys Industrial Products Ltd was fined £350,000 with £60,000 costs at Chelmsford Crown Court today.

Anthony Bond

A SUFFOLK company has been heavily fined following an explosion which left a worker with serious injuries.

Storeys Industrial Products Ltd was fined £350,000 with £60,000 costs at Chelmsford Crown Court today.

The company, formerly known as Wardle Storeys, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure the health and safety whilst at work for all of their employees.

It follows an explosion on November 29 2005 at its factory at Brantham Works, Brantham, which left 55-year-old John Balls, from near Manningtree, with serious burns.

He sustained injuries to his face, chest, abdomen and hands. Inappropriate handling and use of dried Nitrocellulose prior to mixing caused the explosion and subsequent fire at the factory.

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HM Inspector of Health and Safety, John Hawkins, said: “This was a breach of obligation to its staff, indicative of failure by the company to appreciate the risks from such work, which inevitably lead to an explosion and injury to an employee.

“Although the company is now in administration, the HSE believe that it was important to proceed with the prosecution in the public interest, due to the serious nature of the incident.

“John Balls' injuries could and should have been avoided by straightforward safety precautions. The company should have re-assessed the risk following changes to its manufacturing procedures.”

The HSE has now warned other companies to carry out proper risk assessments.