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AWE Plc To Pay More Than £280,000 Over Workplace Injury

Basingstoke Man Suffered Burns To Face And Arm


By Rob Dixon

The Health and Safety Executive has revealed that the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Plc is to pay more than £280,000 in fines and costs following an accident at work in which a worker was injured in August 2010.

AWE plc pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations following the incident, which saw Ashley Emery, 29, from Basingstoke, suffer burns to his left arm and face.

Reading Crown Court heard that the worker was breaking two volatile agents into a bucket as part of the process of producing a lacquer when he moved away and removed his respirator. When he returned, the contents ignited and produced a fireball.

According to the HSE, its investigation found that the incident could have been avoided if AWE plc had recognised the hazards of working with the material and introduced the necessary safeguards. Concerns were also raised regarding the storage of unnecessary hazardous materials in the manufacturing area.

Stephen Nye, a Partner and workplace injury lawyer based at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said it was vital that employers recognise the health and safety lessons to be learned from the incident.

He outlined: “Working in close contact with hazardous materials and substances can be fraught with much risk and it is vital that employers always take steps to ensure their workers are given the right tools and protection to carry out such work safely.

“We see numerous cases similar to this one when people are left with serious injuries as a result of the proper precautions not being taken in the workplace, meaning they need long-term support to recover and get back into the world of work.

“Too many people are hurt in work accidents which could have been avoided and it is so important that employers take notice of incidents like this, in an effort to ensure that the same problems are not repeated in the future.”

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