Two print workers suffered serious personal injury, after flammable vapours ignited as they cleaned a press at a printing factory in Waltham Forest.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court, was told that the two men were hand cleaning the machines ‘blankets’, which was a task that had to be carried out at regular intervals to prevent ink build up.
However the solvent they were using known as QE3 which had a flash point of -20°C ignited, causing a flash-fire.
One of the workers leapt from the press in an attempt to escape the flames but shattered his left ankle and fractured his right heel in the process.
He was hospitalised for fifteen days and had to take four months off work while he endured two operations and physiotherapy. The second worker suffered burn injuries to his arms but was able to return to work shortly after the incident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the company had ignored advice given by the press manufacturers, who advised not to use cleaning agents with a flash point of less than 55°C due to the danger of fire or explosion.
The men’s employers Delta Display Ltd, of Walthamstow, in North East London, was fined £12,000 after admitting a breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations, following a successful prosecution by the HSE at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.