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£80,000 fine issued to chemical firm following factory explosion

Catalloy Ltd has been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £80,000 in costs following pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work…

Catalloy Ltd (‘the firm’) has been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £80,000 in costs following pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 over an explosion at its plant in Widnes on 25 November 2011. The incident was the result of an adjustment made to a reactor at its Moss Bank Road plant which produces metal catalysts used by the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries. An explosion the following day blew the lid of the reactor off and forced equipment through the factory roof. An employee sustained cuts to his hand and back. The Health and Safety Executive (‘HSE’) investigation which ensued indicated that whilst a new seal had been fitted to prevent air getting in to reactor, the firm failed to assess the risks associated with higher pressure within the reactor. 

HSE inspector Mhairi Duffy commented that: 

“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”.