Tata Chemicals Europe has been fined over £171,000 (inc. costs) after 4 separate incidents at its Cheshire factory.
Incident 1 - 29th January 2010
A worker was trying to reach a pump to restart it when his right foot went through a missing part of the grating. He was exposed to a toxic liquid at a temperature of approximately 95 degrees C when his foot entered the sump below, which is used to collect overflowing chemicals.
Incident 2 - 25th July 2010
The second incident occurred six months later when a dangerous gas was released, resulting in high levels of carbon monoxide being present in the area of the plant where employees were working.
An investigation into the incident found employees had not been given sufficient practical training for the work activity that caused the gas leak, and the emergency procedures at the plant were inadequate.
Incident 3 - 19th November
Part of the grating on the gantry in incident 4 collapsed. Tata did not report this under RIDDOR.
Incident 4 - 21st November 2010
Part of the gantry five floors up along which a worker was walking gave way as the metal grating under his feet had become badly corroded. He escaped with minor injuries after landing on a scaffolding board on the walkway below.
The HSE proecuted Tata for:
2 breaches of RIDOOR for failing to report walkway collapse
4 breaches of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act
Tata Chemicals was fined a total of £171,832 inc. costs.
The HSE inspector said: "A company the size of Tata Chemicals should never have allowed these incidents to occur, and the lives of its workers were put at risk as a result. The general conditions we found at the plant were extremely poor. Some of the gantries were in desperate need of repair after becoming badly corroded and the practical training for staff was also inadequate, meaning they did not take appropriate measures in emergency situations. The chemical industry has the potential to be extremely dangerous so it’s vital that firms like Tata Chemicals make health and safety their top priority. Unfortunately, the company fell way below acceptable standards on multiple occasions."