Bradford chemical company fined £300k after workers exposed to chlorine gas

A Bradford-based agricultural chemical company has been fined £300k after two of its workers were exposed to chlorine gas.

The incident took place at Nufarm UK Limited on 2 August 2021. Two mechanical fitters had been assigned to repair a leak on a carbon block heat exchanger. However, later in the day, both fitters started coughing, struggling to breathe and their eyes and throats began to sting and burn. They had been exposed to chlorine gas that had escaped from a drain valve that had been left open.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the uncontrolled release of chlorine gas had been able to escape to atmosphere from the open valve, because a vent on a scrubber had not been isolated. This caused the two men to suffer from breathing difficulties, stinging eyes, blurred vision and burning throats as they had been exposed to the harmful substance.  As a result of the incident, the two men required hospital treatment.

Nufarm UK Ltd of Wyke Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 5 (1) of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulation. The company has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £4,629.63 in costs at  Bradford Magistrates’ Court

After the hearing, HSE inspector Justine Lee commented: “Chlorine gas is a highly toxic substance that requires robust control measures to be put in place to ensure that the risk exposure of employees to it is eliminated.

“Had the correct isolations been put in place on the scrubber or had the drain valve been closed, this incident would have been prevented. This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct isolation procedure.”


Notes to editors 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More information about the legislation referred to in this case is available.
  3. Further details on the latest HSE news releases is available.
  4. Guidance on the safe isolation of plant and equipment is available.