August 14, 2017

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Tata Steel gets total £1m fine & costs for toxin exposure

Tata Steel UK Limited has been fined after the release of dangerous toxic and flammable substances from its site in Scunthorpe.

Hull Crown Court heard that on 17 June 2011, a large quantity of Benzole was released at an open site glass in Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe Steel Works.

The release resulted in a large flammable vapour cloud that exposed five workers to the risk of serious injury of death had the cloud ignited. Two of the workers were exposed to the chemical and suffered coughing and breathing difficulties. They were sent to hospital and discharged the next day.

Entirely avoided

The HSE’s investigation found Tata Steel failed to take the appropriate safety measures to prevent the release of the toxic and flammable chemical.

The company also failed to address the risks which had previously been identified and the incident could have been entirely avoided if the company addressed these concerns.

The site in Scunthorpe is a top tier Control of Major Accidents Hazards site due to the large amounts of highly flammable and toxic chemicals stored on the site.

Risk of serious harm

Tata Steel UK Limited of Millbank, London pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £930,000 with costs of £70,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Stephen Hargreaves said: “It was extremely fortunate no one was seriously affected by this incident. Had the flammable vapour cloud ignited this could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

“This incident highlights the need for all duty holders to implement and address all concerns and potential risks which have been identified. Tata’s failure to do so in this case put a number of workers at risk of serious harm.”

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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
6 years ago

When does over-exposure to a known or should be known hazard or stressor of any kind become a serious enough risk to be labelled toxic or is that just a question of expediency? Is it before the employee presents with signs or milder symptoms of ill-health sufficient to impair their Wellbeing, performance and productivity yet, continue to attend work or after they are actually manifesting significant injury and then forced to take time off when actually incapable of presenteeism because, they are no longer fit to work? And does this not beg the question where do DSE user operators stand… Read more »