Employers and employees in the chemical industry are being reminded of the crucial importance of safe working practices, after an East Lincolnshire company was prosecuted for a major breach of health and safety regulations.
Milennium Inorganic Chemicals was fined £40,000 after 82 litres of the highly toxic chemical titanium tetrachloride were released into the air.
This could potentially have caused a massive public health hazard and a number of compensation claims against the company.
Only when an operator shut off the valve, at great risk of personal injury, was the incident prevented from escalating into something much more serious.
"Our investigation uncovered a catalogue of errors and omissions by the company," said Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Mike Nind, adding that design issues, a lack of risk assessment and safety management failures contributed to the incident.
Factory owners have received a number of warnings from the HSE recently, following a number of serious work injuries, including an incident at a steel-rolling plant in North Yorkshire last year in which an employee’s arm was crushed.