This article was published on November 12th, 2012
A defence company from the South has been ordered to pay fines totalling £376,000 after its poor health and safety regime led to the death of a worker who was blown up by a build-up of nitroglycerin.
Wallop Defence Systems Ltd (WDS) exposed their technician to the highly explosive substance as he emptied an industrial oven containing flare pellets at the firm’s factory in Hampshire.
It is believed that the worker was blown 29 meters by a huge explosion which left debris as far as 300 meters away.
Several other employees were also injured in the accident which happened in June 2006.
The company were making decoy flares for the Ministry of Defence which are used to protect aircraft, but it had been common-knowledge since 2004 that the pellet curing also created nitroglycerin as a side product.
WDS carried out a number of cleaning processes in order to try and combat the problem, but failed to carry out proper risk assessments which would have highlighted the danger.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected the incident and found that none of the firm’s senior management team or technical advisers were competent to deal with the issue and failed to seek external professional help.
WDS was fined a total of £266000 and ordered to pay £110,000 in costs for the health and safety breaches, a statement from the HSE explained.
“Both this explosion and the subsequent blast in December 2008 were foreseeable and preventable had the company sought and taken appropriate advice and implemented the correct measures,” a spokesperson for the deceased worker said.
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