February 28, 2018
Two UK-based companies have been fined after a 2011 explosion at its recycling centre left several injured.
Ereco EMEA Corp Ltd., a Sussex-based recycling company, has been fined for its part in an explosion at a recycling centre in Surrey, England, in 2011. The explosion, which happened after toner cartridges were improperly handled, left eight workers injured, five of them seriously, and led to one worker remaining in an induced coma for fifteen weeks.
Get Surrey reports that Ereco has been ordered by Portsmouth Crown Court to pay £60,000 ($83,000/€68,000) in damages to the Hobbs Industrial Estate, in Lingfield, after the breach of health and safety and fire safety laws. Paramount Waste Extraction Ltd. have also been fined £32,000 ($44,000/€36,000) in damages, following criticism of their “lax approach” to health and safety, which included ignoring warnings from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, among other advisers.
An investigation into the explosion and subsequent blaze, carried out by the SFRS in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive, found that Paramount Waste Extraction, which had designed the machinery which shredded and processed the recycled toner cartridges, had overloaded the machines with cartridges with more than a residual amount of toner powder remaining inside. The company has also used generic, rather than specific, data to ascertain if this may create an explosive atmosphere.
Michelle Canning, inspector with the HSE said: “All the employees involved in this incident are extremely lucky this explosion didn’t prove fatal. Ereco failed to take the required precautions before starting a process of work with dangerous substances and this failure resulted in this serious, life-threatening explosion. Both designers and suppliers must ensure that the risks of using their equipment are eliminated through safe design, and this should include taking into account foreseeable misuse.”
“Despite warnings, Ereco failed to deal with the risk of fire at its plant leading to a catastrophic explosion of flammable toner powder,” said Denise Turner-Stewart, Cabinet member for communities at Surrey County Council. “SFRS works with employers to help them comply with fire safety laws but where a lax approach puts people at risk won’t hesitate to take enforcement and legal action.”
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