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An Essex firm has been fined for neglecting chemical safety after a fire involving a brazier and a drum of thinners led to safety breaches being uncovered.

The court heard that paint thinners were involved in an incident in October 2012 where a fireball erupted in a brazier.

HSE told the court that the company had failed in its duties to assess and control the use of paint thinners – the company was not aware how workers were using the dangerous substance and were also unaware that a brazier was being used to burn rubbish.

HSE found that the company had not properly assessed the risks involved in using and storing paint thinners, and had fallen far below the standard of controlling the risks. The Company failed to ensure it had full knowledge of all the chemicals on site, how they were being used and failed to undertake an assessment of the risks involved.

The Company pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and was fined a total of £22,500 and ordered to pay £9243 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Monica Babb said:

The Company should have been aware of what dangerous substances their workers were using, and how. A proper risk assessment was key to making sure that suitable, effective control measures were in place

1. Regulation 5(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 states: Where a dangerous substance is or is liable to be present at the workplace, the employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to his employees which arise from that substance.

2. Regulation 6(1) of the same Regulations states: Every employer shall ensure that risk is either eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.


Info Bite 157
March 2015