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£40k fine after two employees injured in fire at adhesive manufacturer

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A Manchester adhesive manufacturer has appeared in court after two employees were injured in a major fire which stopped production at the site for five months.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard enforcement action had been taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prior to the incident at Bankfield Mills in Radcliffe amid concerns with poor conditions in the handling, storage and management of risks from flammable liquids at Itac Ltd.

HSE became concerned about slow progress in dealing with the issues and further enforcement action had been taken when the incident, which resulted in one employee suffering facial burns and another employee being treated with oxygen at the scene, occurred on 28 April 2015.

An investigation by HSE found an untrained and unsupervised employee had tried his own method for unloading and filtering flammable glue product from a mixing machine. The resulting spark within the IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container) storage container ignited a fire which caused an explosion which spread burning glue around the factory destroying a large section of the mixing area.

Itac Ltd of Bankfield Mills, Radcliffe, Manchester pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8309.74.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Ron Griffiths said: “This case shows the need to assess all of the risks of a process to establish a safe system of work and ensure that the system is then followed. Standards for the safe handling and storage of dangerous materials such as highly flammable liquids are long established and copies of guidance are available for free on HSE’s website. Employers should check they are complying with the established accepted practice and that their staff understand the hazards and risks of not following the established safe system of work.”

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