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Judge slams chemical firm’s “abysmal incompetence”31 July 2012
A Welsh chemical company has been fined £100,000 for failing to comply with three Improvement Notices.
Mold Crown Court heard Euticals Ltd (formerly Archimica Ltd) manufactures and distributes specialty chemical products at its facility in Sandycroft, Deeside. During a series of HSE visits to the site between March 2010 and October 2010, the company failed to demonstrate that it had suitable measures in place to prevent a major incident.
On 29 March 2010, the HSE issued an Improvement Notice requesting the company supplied missing information from the safety report of its premises.
During subsequent visits by HSE inspector Mark Burton, he identified the firm hadn’t assessed the roles and responsibilities of staff for the management of major hazards. On 1 November 2010, he issued a second Improvement Notice, which required the firm to put arrangements in place to manage major-accident hazards.
Inspector Burton issued another Improvement Notice on the same day, instructing Euticals to put control measures in place to ensure that intrinsic safety equipment was inspected every three years. The company had failed to carry out inspections on a large amount of this equipment for more than six years, and 177 items had failed inspections without any remedial action being taken.
The HSE extended the period of compliance for each notice multiple times, but the company failed to take the necessary actions. Inspector Burton said: “The company had plenty of opportunity to comply with the Improvement Notices after repeated visits from HSE and they still chose not to. They deal with dangerous chemicals every day and have a legal responsibility to make sure that how they do that is safe.
“That responsibility extends not only to their employees but to the site's neighbours and any visitors, as well as the environment. There's the possibility for a major incident when manufacturing and distributing this kind of product and failing to plan for it could have devastating consequences.”
On 27 July, Euticals pleaded guilty to breaching s33(1)(g) of the HSWA 1974, for failing to comply with the notices. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay £8344 in costs.
In mitigation, the company said it has now spent more than £1million to comply with the notices.
Delivering his sentence, Judge Philip Hughes said: “An aggravating feature is the defendant company’s reckless regard for adhering to the law and somewhat dismissive attitude to those in the HSE trying to guide them and neglecting to take preventative measures to reduce the risks.
“This is a case, which has demonstrated in the defendant company, a persistent lack of management control and abysmal level of disorganisation and incompetence.”
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