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Chemical firm fined after three injured in explosion

Posted in: Employer Negligence Workplace Injuries 

A chemical firm based at Burscough industrial estate has been fined £150,000 after three members of their staff were severely injured in an explosion on site. Personnel Hygiene Services (PHS) Ltd were found to be breaching many health and safety procedures, following an investigation, resulting in the explosion that caused three of their staff members to sustain serious burns.

The explosion occurred on the site after 150 aerosol cans went through a shredder, which were later found to have contained highly flammable substances. PHS has pleaded guilty to the health and safety breach, which occurred in October 2010, at the Liverpool Crown Court last week.

The court heard that more than 60 police officers were deployed to enforce road closures surrounding the incident, while employees were “caught in a fireball” inside the building. Surrounding buildings near Tollgate Crescent were evacuated while firefighters tried to put out the blaze and save trapped employees.

“Great regret”

An investigation has since been carried out by HSE and the Environment Agency, finding that the company had no procedure in place that checked the contents of waste boxes prior to their disposal. The investigation also found that the company failed to monitor the waste going into the shredder as no chemical specialist was on site to check for the likes of flammable substances.

PHS has described the incident as a “great regret” and said that they have since “taken steps to prevent any such incident happening in the future”.

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