Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Huge Chemical fire was preventable
Posted by David Cant on July 28, 2011

In June 2007 a huge chemical fire spread out over an extensive area, which was larger than a football pitch.  This fire could have been avoided and therefore the Health and Safety Executive decided to prosecute two firms they considered to be responsible for this disaster.

Fire risks assessments provided by health and safety consultants can detect dangers and prevent fires from starting in the first place.  If you do not carry out this type of assessment then you are opening yourself up to charges being brought on you and your company.  This is what happened in Crewe after the chemical fire took place at Greenway Environment Ltd in.

Shredding Unit Was to Blame

The fire was started after an aerosol shredding unit which was built and sold by Pakawaste Ltd exploded at the Greenway site.  There were lots of explosions caused by aerosols which were ignited by the fire and quickly the fire grew out of control.  Tackling the fire was a hard task which involved more than one hundred fire-fighters and there were over twenty fire engines called to the scene.  The fire-fighters created an exclusion zone around the fire which allowed them to get the blaze under control.

After the fire an investigation was held to try and determine the cause of the fire. The aerosol shredding unit was found to have problems.  These were that it could not safely shred any containers which still had any gas or flammable contents inside and that the procedures for working the unit were not safe.  The unit should also have been out of the way of aerosols or any other flammable substances and kept in a special area.

Aerosols Rocketed Off Like Fireworks

The fire caused a lot of damage and took serious effort in getting it contained and eventually extinguished. There could have been serious injuries or even death caused to the public and to the employees working at the Greenway site in Crewe.

The Health and Safety Executive decided that both of the firms were at fault.  The designers of the aerosol shredding unit, Pakawaste, had designed an inadequate machine.  Greenway on the other hand should have done more to ensure the safety of their employees and have procedures in place which could have stopped the fire from spreading like it did.

If the fire crew were unable to successfully beat the fire it would have reached the liquid petroleum  gas cylinders which were positioned very close to the location.  This would have been even more disastrous.   Both of the companies have pleaded guilty and are now awaiting their sentencing which will take place on 28th July.

Ask Your Health and Safety Consultants about Risk Assessments

There are always fire hazards. Asking your health and safety consultants to help you conduct a fire risk assessment is advisable, can save lives, and potentially save your business.  By law you are expected to ensure the safety of your workers, failing to do so will result in prosecution.  Fire risk assessments are just one of the health and safety services offered by Veritas Consulting.  Call 0800 1488 677 to find out more.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Workplace Safety

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