£500,000 fine for firework factory blast

A fireworks firm has been fined £500,000 after a 24-year-old worker was killed in an explosion at its factory in Peterborough, but the company will not pay a penny after it was placed into liquidation following the incident.

The employee was working for what was then known as Le Maitre Ltd, making a pyrotechnic composition when one of the products ignited, causing a significant explosion. He suffered serious burns in the explosion and died of his injuries the following day.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court was told how the employee was provided with unsuitable tools for handling the explosive materials and the facility in which he was working was not of an appropriate standard. The company also failed to provide him with adequate training and he was not appropriately supervised.

Le Maitre Ltd (now known as LM140121 Limited) was found guilty of breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing in its duties to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare of its employees. It was also found guilty of under section 33(1)(a) of the Act. As well as the £500,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £20,788.

‘While the explosives sector in the UK is relatively small and incidents relatively uncommon, when they do occur they often result in significant injury or death,’ said the HSE’s explosives expert and inspector Stuart Charles after the sentencing.

‘This case should reinforce the message to the sector that appropriate precautions must be maintained or an event such as this is likely.’

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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