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Print firm fined after flash fire injures two workers

20-05-2012

A printing company based in Waltham Forest has been fined for safety failings after two workers were burned in a flash fire when vapours from a flammable cleaning fluid ignited in a print room.

The two printers, employed by Delta Display Ltd in Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, suffered burns and one suffered serious breaks to both legs as he tried to escape the fire. One of them described the explosion and fire as a ‘flamethrower’ coming from the top of the printing press.

An investigation into the incident on 20 May 2011 was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which brought the prosecution. HSE found the company had ignored guidance given by the press manufacturers that there was a danger of fire and explosion if any cleaning agent with a flash point below 55 degrees centigrade was used.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard (9 May) that the two men had been using the solvent provided to hand-clean the ‘blankets’ of a printing press, a regular task to clear the build-up of ink. The solvent, called QE3, had a flash point of minus 20 degrees centigrade.

Delta Display Ltd of Walthamstow, E17, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and was fined £12,000 with £5,250 costs. The company, part of the Delta Group, employs some 400 people and specialises in producing promotional marketing materials.

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