Warrington Crown Court fined Catalloy Ltd £80,000 ($121,000) and ordered to pay a further £80,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers.
The case dates back to 2011 when one of the chemical reactors at the Widnes facility exploded injuring an employee and damaging the roof.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Catalloy, said the firm had “fitted a new seal on the reactor to prevent air getting in, but had not properly considered the risks of the increased pressure inside the equipment during the production process.”
HSE Inspector Mhairi Duffy said “Catalloy deals with potentially dangerous substances every day and so it’s vital nothing is left to chance when it comes to the safety of its workers.
“The company should have carefully considered the risks of sealing the reactor but instead it continued with the production process and there was a major hydrogen explosion as a result"
“Luckily, only one worker suffered minor injuries in the blast but the consequences could easily have been fatal.”
Catalloy makes skeletal metal catalysts and supported precious metal catalysts for hydrogenation of specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, and petrochemical products & intermediates.
The firm’s products are used in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
Catalloy did not respond to a request for comment.