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‘Many Answers Needed’ Over Smethwick Recycling Factory Blaze

Nine People Injured In Major Midlands Fire


By Rob Dixon

Legal experts who represent victims of major industrial accidents have warned that workers and the community at large will want answers over a fire at a recycling factory in Smethwick, which left several firefighters injured.

West Midlands Fire Service has said that more than 150 firefighters and 35 fire appliances are on the scene at the J & A Young plant on Dartmouth Road working to control the blaze, which has sent a thick plume of smoke 6,000ft into the air.

It is thought that nine firefighters have needed treatment for injuries, with three then being taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Residents living close to the industrial estate affected have been advised to keep windows closed as efforts to tackle the fire, which was reported to emergency services last night (June 30th), continue.

Irwin Mitchell’s workplace injury team specialise in representing people hurt in serious industrial accidents, as well as the families of those killed at work. They notably helped 75 workers and residents injured following the Killingholme refinery explosion in 2001, the largest chemical disaster since Flixborough in 1974. Conoco-Philips, which owned the plant, was fined £1 million in relation to health and safety breaches.

David Urpeth, a Partner and national head of workplace injuries at Irwin Mitchell, said:  “This incident in Birmingham is clearly hugely worrying and while the priority at present is bringing an end to the fire, attention will then need to turn to ensuring both workers and the local community get answers over how this happened.

“Fires involving plastics can be very dangerous due to the fumes that can be released and we have seen instances when such chemicals have had a major impact on victims – causing respiratory problems and other issues.

“Reassurances will be needed that the problems seen here will not be repeated again and we hope the Health and Safety Executive and other authorities are able to provide the answers desperately needed over this incident.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Accidents at Work claims