A British distillery was fined about $353,000 on Aug. 18 in a case prosecuted after one of its employees was engulfed in flames during a fire that destroyed an Alcohols Ltd warehouse and its contents. (John McNaughton/West Midlands Fire Service photo)

Employee's Serious Burns Bring Big UK Fine

A British distillery was fined about $353,000 on Aug. 18 in a case prosecuted after one of its employees was engulfed in flames during a fire that destroyed an Alcohols Ltd warehouse and its contents.

A British distillery was fined about $353,000 on Aug. 18 in a case prosecuted after one of its employees was engulfed in flames during a fire that destroyed an Alcohols Ltd warehouse and its contents. Ethyl acetate, a highly flammable liquid, was being transferred from a bulk storage tank into an intermediate bulk container when the 21-year-old employee was engulfed. He sustained burns to 20 percent of his body, mainly his head, neck, and hands, the Health and Safety Executive reported.

An HSE investigation of the Nov. 26, 2012, incident found that static electricity generated by the transfer of the liquid was the most likely cause of the fire. Contributing causes were poor maintenance of pipework and associated valves in the warehouse and failure to competently inspect the equipment or monitor the systems of work.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined and ordered to pay court costs.

"Companies that fail to ensure the integrity of their safety critical equipment place their employees, members of the public, emergency services, and their entire livelihood at risk of serious harm. Poor management of highly flammable liquids can have catastrophic results both for individuals and businesses," said HSE Inspector Kieron Jones.

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