Norwich Crown Court heard how, on 13th July 2015, two workers had already sprayed several welded steel buckets that morning and were preparing for their next batch. The flammable vapour generated while cleaning or flushing a paint spray gun was ignited by one of the various sources of ignition that were present. An explosion occurred, killing both of them.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the immediate cause of the explosion to be the inconsistent and incomplete approach to health and safety by the company and its employees. This resulted in the lack of suitable control measures; specifically, a suitable and sufficient safe system of work for the activities in the spray booth.
Harford Attachments Limited of Spar Road, Norwich pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and breaching Regulation 6(4)(f)(i) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002.
It was fined £145,000 and ordered to pay costs of £65,900.
HSE inspector Keith Waller said after the hearing: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work, and failure to ensure that health and safety documentation was communicated and followed.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”