Companies fined for safety breaches which caused Cheshire chemical fire

Two firms have been prosecuted and fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a major chemical fire broke out at a site in Cheshire.

The fire at the Gateway industrial estate broke out in June 2007 and required more than 100 firefighters to put it out. The blaze also caused aerosols in drums and cylinders to violently explode, prompting police to set up a 200m exclusion zone around the factory.

Investigating the cause of the fire, the HSE found that the machine used to shred aerosols was not suitable for shredding containers which still had flammable gases and liquids inside, yet this is what it was being used for. This work should also have been carried out in an area away from flammable substances, which is yet another thing that would have come up had a fire risk assessment been carried out by someone with the right fire safety training.

Two companies were fined over the incident – the Preston-based firm Pakawaste which manufactured the shredding machine, and the recycling company Greenway on whose premises the fire took place. In total, the HSE ordered these firms to pay fines of £87,500 plus costs for breaching a number of health and safety regulations.