A recycling firm in Knottingley has been fined after almost 4,000 litres of highly flammable liquid spilled from a road tanker.
Staff at Tradebe Solvent Recycling, on Weeland Road, were exposed to the liquid in the incident in December 2011.
Wakefield Magistrates’ Court heard that three workers waded into the liquid and one used his finger to prevent it from flowing into the drain.
The court heard that after a shift change at the site, one operative started to fill a tanker with paint thinners unaware it had already been filled with industrial denatured alcohol by the previous shift.
The vehicle was then left unattended for around 15 minutes with the pump running.
When he returned almost four tonnes, around 3,800 litres, of highly flammable liquid had spilled onto the site and traffic on site was not halted until the firm’s health and safety manager arrived some time later.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company did not have a safe system in place for filling tankers and that there was inadequate training of staff.
The company, part of the Tradebe Waste Management group, admitted breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by exposing employees to danger while loading highly flammable liquids and recovering a spillage.
It was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £2,700 in costs.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Neil Casey, said: “This was a serious incident involving nearly 4,000 litres of flammable liquid, which could have been ignited by more than one source.
“The nature of the business carried out on the site, where flammable liquids are processed for re-use, meant that there was a risk that a major fire could occur.”
Mr Casey said that a similar incident occurred at the company’s site Lancashire where a tanker was overfilled and controls were implemented to prevent it happening again.
He said: “The same measures had not been introduced at Knottingley and, had they been, this incident could have been avoided.
“Tradebe Solvent Recycling failed to ensure there were robust safety procedures for filling tankers and a safe system in place for shift changeover.”