Tata Steel fined £1m for toxic release

Article by Adam Duckett

Tata site in Scunthorpe
Clare Louise Jackson / Shutterstock.com
Workers were extremely fortunate not to be hurt in the incident

TATA STEEL has been fined £1m (US$1.3m) after five employees were exposed to a toxic gas release at its Scunthorpe site in the UK.

In 2011, benzole was released through an open sight glass at the steel works, resulting in a large flammable vapour cloud that exposed the workers to the risk of death had it ignited, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Two of the workers suffered coughing and breathing difficulties, and were admitted to hospital and discharged the next day.

An investigation by HSE found that Tata Steel failed to take the appropriate safety measures to prevent the release. It reports that the company failed to address risks which had been identified earlier and the incident could have been entirely avoided.

HSE inspector Stephen Hargreaves said: “It was extremely fortunate no one was seriously affected by this incident. Had the flammable vapour cloud ignited this could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

“This incident highlights the need for all duty holders to implement and address all concerns and potential risks which have been identified. Tata’s failure to do so in this case put a number of workers at risk of serious harm.”

Tata Steel has pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £930,000 and ordered to pay costs of £70,000.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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