May 21, 2018
A car parts manufacturer has been fined £1.6m following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease and an explosion at its factory.
Four staff and a nearby resident became seriously ill as a result of the outbreak. A worker also suffered serious burns in an unrelated explosion at the plant.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) traced the Legionnaires’ virus to cooling towers at the site.
It found the company had failed to effectively manage water cooling systems causing legionella bacteria within the water supply to grow to potentially lethal levels.
Ellis Whittam discusses Legionella further here.
In relation to the explosion, an operator was attempting to recover a part that had come off production rollers. There was an explosive atmosphere within the machine during normal production. The part came into contact with an electrostatic grid that created a spark and caused a dust explosion.
The HSE found measures protecting operators from explosion risks were inadequate. This was despite previous explosions occurring. The court heard further that the explosion was as an ‘accident waiting to happen’ and the result of cost-cutting, incompetence and lack of training.
Faltec Europe Limited admitted breaking the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was:
The HSE said:
It added that:
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