AWE is facing court case
Alex Gore • Published 24 Jun 2012 16:00
BRITAIN'S biggest nuclear warhead factory will have its safety procedures thrust into the spotlight after being ordered to face court action over a serious fire - just days after it won a top national award.
The Atomic Weapons Establishment's (AWE) approach to the prevention of accidents and ill-health earned the company a commendation in the National Defence Sector category at the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards ceremony in Birmingham.
But days later the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced plans to prosecute, following an investigation into a blaze at the Aldermaston plant on August 3, 2010. The incident inside a facility housing explosives left one worker with burns to his face and arm.
AWE managing director Andrew Jupp said the company "deeply regrets" the incident and that ensuring the safety of staff, neighbours and the local community is its "highest priority". He said it quickly carried out a thorough, independent investigation, with the operation immediately suspended.
He said: "It will not be re-started until a safe alternative process has been agreed with our regulators. In view of the impending legal action, any further comment would be inappropriate at this time."
AWE plc is due before Reading magistrates on August 6 accused of three three breaches of safety law - failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees, failing to take appropriate measures to limit the extent of fire or explosion and failing to provide suitable personal protective equipment for employees exposed to health and safety risks.
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 22 Jun 12