Firm Fined Over Chemical Handling

Volatile Chemicals Stored Close To Forklift Trucks And Electrical Equipment

29.03.2010

A fire started by an arsonist at a hazardous waste recycling company led to a £40,000 fine for the firm because it was deemed not to have secured flammable liquid which was used in the attack.

York-based BCB Environmental Management Limited admitted two charges of breaking laws six and seven of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). The company, which is based at the Marston Business Park, Tockwith, stored drums of volatile chemicals close to forklift trucks and electrical equipment, thus breaking the law.

A former employee started the blaze in October 2008 prompting a joint probe by North Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The arsonist had easy access to the drums which he used to start the fire.

HSE inspectors also found a dangerous drum crushing machine in use at BCB, which contravened the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Harrogate Magistrates Court heard a vital safety guard was missing from the machine, which exposed operators to dangerous internal mechanics.

Employees would have struggled to stop the crusher should an accident have occurred because the safety stop switch was covered in grime and was almost unrecognisable.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the significant fine imposed in this case.

“Dangerous material can pose a hazard to both workers and local residents, hence why there is legislation in place to ensure proper storage takes place.

“It is noted that there was also an unsafe piece of machinery which could have led to a serious or even fatal accident at work.

“Safety in the workplace must be paramount and failures posing risk of causing a work accident must be severely dealt with.

“All too often I see the tragic consequences which follow a serious or fatal accident at work."