December 3, 2020

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Avonmouth explosion

Four killed in Avonmouth water works explosion

Four people have died, and another has been injured in a ‘large explosion’ at waste-water treatment works near Bristol.

A large explosion occurred in a silo that held treated biosolids at Wessex Water’s premises on an industrial area on Kings Weston Lane in Avonmouth. The BBC reported that firefighters were called the scene at 11:20 GMT on Thursday 3 December. Three employees of Wessex Water and a contractor were confirmed to have been killed in the blast, an investigations into its cause continues. The men have been named as Luke Wheaton, 16, Ray White, 57, Brian Vickery, 63, and Mike James, 64.

A fifth person was injured, but is not thought to be in a life-threatening condition.

Avon and Somerst Police declared a major incident and urged members of the public to avoid the area. It also reassured the public there is ‘not believed to be any ongoing public safety concerns following the incident’ and that the explosion was not being treated as terror-related. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and emergency services are investigating the cause of the explosion.

Colin Skellett, Wessex Water Chief Executive, released the following statement in the days after the incident: “We are all absolutely devastated by what has happened.

“Our hearts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives during this tragic event.

“I know from thoughts and comments I have received from so many, that this has affected the whole Wessex Water family.

“I know Avonmouth, I worked there for many years, and I know the people, some who whom have lost their lives during this terrible incident.

“We have never had a fatality at Wessex Water before. Despite all of our procedures, systems, protocols and training, this awful event has happened.

“We are determined to find out what happened and why and we will worth with all the relevant authorities to do just that.”

Giles Hyder, HSE’s Head of Operations in the South West said: “We send our deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically died. It is important a joint investigation with the police is carried out.

“We will provide specialist support to what is likely to be a complex investigation under the command of the police.”

A witness reported hearing a “very loud explosion” that “shook buildings”.

What are biosolids?

Biosolids are solid organic matter recovered from a sewage treatment process and used as fertilizer. According to Wessex Water biosolids, or ‘treated sludget, is a by-product of is treatment process. It says “we treat sludge in anaerobic digesters to produce agricultural fertiliser and renewable energy.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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