FAILED SAFE CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT CAUSES $2.9 MILLION FINE
A former chemical storage company in Campbellfield suffered enormous damage after enormous stockpiles of incorrectly stored chemically hazardous materials caught fire, the Melbourne County Court heard.
The company failed to provide a safe workplace or take reasonable safety precautions in the storage of their materials, which resulted in a four-day long blaze and disastrous consequences for the health and safety of employees.
On the 5th of April 2019, a worker was transferring the highly-flammable and toxic chemical, toluene, from a large container into a smaller drum via forklift when the fire ignited. Catastrophically, the fire spread throughout the entire factory and was rendered uncontrollable for four days, with two employees being rushed to hospital with severe burns to the face and throat.
The court heard also that tolouene (a Class 3 Dangerous Good) is incredibly dangerous, as electrostatic charge can build up as it is transported via pipe systems.
These findings proved that the company was utterly defective in safely storing dangerous chemical goods, controlling the risks involved with the dealing with chemicals (injury/death), necessarily educating employees about the storage and working with the chemicals, or providing essential safety management equipment in the event of danger.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the fire was a “shocking example of the consequences of ignoring safety requirements”. She also stated that “This terrible fire injured two workers, endangered the health and safety of firefighters and emergency responders and blanketed surrounding suburbs in smoke for days – forcing the closure of local schools.”
“The sheer volume of hazardous chemicals at Bradbury’s other sites and the unsafe way in which they were stored posed significant risk to workers and the surrounding communities.”
“There is no excuse for such blatant disregard for workplace safety.”
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