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Chemical company fined for acid fumes exposure

Date:
29 June 2015

Chemical processing company, Airedale Chemical Company Ltd, was fined after people at a neighbouring company were exposed to Nitric acid fumes.

On 29 April 2014, employees from Joda Freight were exposed to the chemical fumes during transfer of the substance from a road tanker into a storage vessel. The fumes escaped through a vent situated on the roof of the Airedale building that housed the nitric acid storage tank.

Towards the end of the transfer the driver was alerted by an Airedale employee that there were complaints about fumes from a neighbouring site. At this time the driver was venting the road tanker through the system.

Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee in the Joda Freight workshop was working outside, immediately below the nitric acid vent pipe and was hospitalised the day after the incident with nitric acid exposure.

On 29 June, Airedale Chemical Company Limited, of Cross Hills, Skipton Road, Keighley pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £12,000 with costs of £3,318.

HSE inspector Caroline Skingle said: “Airedale Chemical Company Ltd is a lower tier site under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations by virtue of storage and use of hazardous chemicals including nitric acid.

“There is a high level of public concern about such sites and they should adequately control the risks that arise from their operations. On this occasion the company fell short of the required control standards for the safe transfer of corrosive nitric acid which resulted in people being affected offsite.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk  
  2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at www.press.hse.gov.uk

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