SAFC Hitech, a Wirral chemical firm, was ordered to pay fines of £120k by Liverpool crown court for violating health and safety regulations following an incident where a 45 year old employee from Kirkby was severely burned by a fireball after an explosion. The employee, Leslie jones, sustained injuries so severe that doctors induced a seven-week coma to aid him in recovering sufficiently from the accident that occurred on February 28 last year.
Employees alerted emergency service to come to SAFC Hitech’s Bromborough base following reports of a chemical spill. After a batch of the volatile chemical trimethylindium (or TMI) exploded, Mr Jones was suddenly caught in a fireball. His co-workers hurried to aid him and Mr Jones was covered in flames. He was then brought to a specialist burns unit in Whiston hospital and put in a coma. Mr Jones had to stay in hospital for nearly three months. To this day he still has severe burns on his face, right arm and upper body and finds it difficult to move.
Following an investigation into the accident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the chemical firm. They were charged for not performing an adequate risk assessment in relation to the waste generated by the TMI purification process, insufficient supervision and monitoring of employees and failures in ensuring their safety. Simon Parrington of the HSE said that said the company simply did not have a safe system of work and this led to the injuries suffered by Mr Jones which have ultimately left him “substantially cosmetically blemished”.
SAFC Hitech admitted to allowing the unsafe work practices that were carried out by their employees when working with TMI and were remorseful for Mr Jones’s injuries. The company was fined £120k and ordered to pay £13,328 costs after pleading guilty to single violations of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.