November 10, 2016
Hull Crown Court has issued fines totalling £3 million for breaches of health and safety regulations that resulted in workplace injuries at a chemical plant.
On March 5, 2010, forty-eight year old Paul Doyley was working at the Crystal Pigment chemical plant in Grimsby, when a build-up of Titanium Tetrachloride within the vessel he was working beneath leaked from its tank, came into contact with water and created a violent explosion.
The explosion ruptured the vessel above Paul´s head, showering him with corrosive liquid. As two colleagues came to his aid, the mixture of the liquid and the air created a toxic vapour cloud, causing Paul and one of his colleagues to sustain internal lung damage.
The toxic vapour cloud expanded quickly and blew from the chemical plant across the River Humber – closing the shipping lanes for a period of time. The Humberside Fire and Rescue Service attended, and the incident was brought under control after several hours.
Paul was taken by ambulance to Wakefield´s Pinderfield Hospital, where he received specialist treatment for his workplace injuries at a chemical plant. Tragically he died from his injuries two weeks later – an inquest into his death recording a narrative verdict.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the incident and found that Paul´s employers had deviated from the normal procedures for the management of Titanium Tetrachloride. Inspectors also identified a lack of safety procedures and systems of work to assess and control risk.
Crystal Pigment UK Ltd was prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 for breaches that resulted in workplace injuries in a chemical plant. The company pleaded guilty to the charges, and a sentencing hearing took place at Hull Crown Court.
After hearing that there had been a second uncontrolled release of a toxic vapour in July 2011 during the cleaning of a redundant vessel, the court issued fines totalling £3 million for the breaches of health and safety regulations that resulted in workplace injuries at a chemical plant and also ordered Crystal Pigment UK Ltd to pay £37,868 in costs.