Safety prosecution over huge explosion

A BRANTHAM company is to be prosecuted after a massive explosion at its factory left a 55-year-old worker with serious burns.The Health and Safety Executive today said it is to take Storeys Industrial Products, which is currently in administration, to court in September.

A BRANTHAM company is to be prosecuted after a massive explosion at its factory left a 55-year-old worker with serious burns.

The Health and Safety Executive today said it is to take Storeys Industrial Products, which is currently in administration, to court in September.

The company, formerly known as Wardle Storeys, is facing at least one breach of safety arising from the blast which occurred in November 2005.

A spokesman for the HSE said the administrators currently overseeing the business had now consented to the prosecution following an extensive investigation.

The spokesman said "The company will appear in court on summons in respect of an allegation under the health and safety at work act 1974, section 2."

The first hearing of the case is scheduled to take place at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on September 17 at noon.

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More than 40 firefighters from Suffolk and Essex were called in to fight the blaze which occurred following the explosion around 3.40pm on November 29, 2005.

They were accompanied by ambulance crews, the air ambulance, and police officers, as a 200m cordon was enforced around the site.

At the time it was believed materials thought to be used in making missile heads for the Ministry of Defence exploded and caused the huge inferno that followed.

A worker at the factory, John Balls, was badly burned during the incident and airlifted to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, which specialises in treating burns.

Mr Balls, of Mistley, sustained injuries to his face, chest, abdomen and hands.

His condition was originally described as “critical” by the hospital, but it eventually stabilised, although he had to undergo major reconstructive surgery with 30 per cent of his skin used for grafts.

The explosion is thought to have happened during the process of making xylonite, a highly flammable plastic.

It is believed the blast occurred in a xylonite mixer.

The plant is now effectively a shell after 180 workers were laid off by private equity firm Alchemy Partners.

In January this year 90 members of staff were told to go, but by March that figure had doubled, amid acrimony over pay-offs and union criticism.

The liquidation of Wardle Storey was in the hands of administration experts Baker Tilly at the time.

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