Chemical firm Catalloy Ltd has been fined following a hydrogen explosion at their factory which saw a vessel lid blown through the factory roof and left a worker with minor injuries.

The company produces metal catalysts used in the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries.  They made a modification to one of their reactors, fitting a new seal to prevent air getting in. However they had failed to consider the risk posed by the increased pressure inside of the vessel during production. On the first day of production following the modification the vessel exploded, blowing the lid and other equipment through the factory roof. The incident led to a worker suffering cuts to his back and hand.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Mhairi Duffy said it was lucky that only one worker had suffered minor injuries as the explosion could have so easily been fatal. She added: '' 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.''

Warrington Crown Court found Catalloy Ltd to be in breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in failing to ensure the safety of their workers. The company were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay a further £80,000 in costs.