Manufacturer hit with fine after explosion injured three furnace operators

Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court

A manufacturing company in West Yorkshire has been fined £200,000 after workers were seriously injured by an explosion.

Three workers at Weir Minerals Europe Ltd sustained burns while operating a furnace at the firm’s site on Halifax Road, in Todmorden, on 25 February 2020.

They had been melting a large amount of steel before an explosion took place in the furnace. It had most likely been caused by water entering the furnace while the workers were adding in the scrap metal.

The three men suffered burns to their faces, heads and backs. There was also resulting damage to the surrounding equipment.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Weir Minerals Europe was aware of the risk associated with wet scrap metal being added to the furnace.

However the protection from rain that was in place at the time of the incident was not adequately implemented and maintained.

Weir Minerals Europe pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £6,095 in costs at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court on 5 September 2023.

HSE inspector Jackie Ferguson said: “This was a serious incident that could so easily have been avoided.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

This prosecution was supported by HSE enforcement lawyer Matt Reynolds.