Distillery blaze left 21-year-old worker engulfed in flames
22 August 2016
A distillery in Oldbury has been fined after an employee was engulfed in flames in a fire that destroyed the warehouse and its contents. Firm receives heavy fine.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how ethyl acetate (highly flammable liquid) was being transferred from a bulk storage tank into an intermediate bulk container when an employee was engulfed in flames. The 21-year-old sustained twenty percent burns to his head, neck and hands.
The fire, at the Alcohol Limited distillery on Crosswell road in Oldbury, destroyed the warehouse and caused damage to nearby cars and houses. West Mercia Fire and Rescue Service were called to bring the fire under control.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 26 November 2012 found that the most likely source of ignition was a discharge of static electricity generated by the transfer of the liquid.
There was poor maintenance of pipework and associated valves. There was a failure to competently inspect the equipment or monitor the systems of work.
Alcohols Limited, of Charringtons House, The Causeway, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,009.
After the hearing HSE inspector Kieron Jones said: “Companies that fail to ensure the integrity of their safety critical equipment place their employees, members of the public, emergency services and their entire livelihood at risk of serious harm.
“Poor management of highly flammable liquids can have catastrophic results both for individuals and businesses.”
￼The Handling & Storage Solutions Safer Logistics Campaign
Handling & Storage Solutions continues the Safer Logistics campaign to promote health and safety awareness in logistics. We were inspired to launch the campaign by the Health and Safety Executive encouraging all stakeholders to show leadership and ‘be part of the solution’.
It is vital to push home the message that poor health & safety practices have no place in the modern logistics world.
What you can do
Clear safety first principles are worth repeating.
• If you doubt the safety of a working practice, stop. Talk to your supervisor or manager and agree a safe way of proceeding. Don’t carry on and hope for the best.
• No matter who you are in the management structure or workforce, take responsibility for your safety, don’t assume someone else has taken care of it.
On August 23 a worker suffered injuries after being crushed by a forklift at Ridham Dock on The Swale in Kent. Emergency services rushed the man to hospital. Injuries were said to be non life-threatening.