Safety concerns at bomb testing site

Southend Standard: Headquarters - the QinetiQ site in Shoebury Headquarters - the QinetiQ site in Shoebury

THE company which runs the Ministry of Defence weapons testing site at Shoebury could be prosecuted after a blunder during the disposal of explosives.

QinetiQ said no staff were injured, but the mishap had to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.

The firm would not go into detail about the “incident” but said it happened in a specific “cage burning” area where ammunition is incinerated to remove explosives.

Following subsequent inspections, the watchdog rapped the firm for failing to ensure the health and safety of staff disposing of explosives.

Inspectors found the risk assessments carried out on staff responsible for preparing explosive items for disposal were insufficient.

Employees had also not been given all the relevant advice, according to the watchdog which found two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and served an improvement notice ordering action to be taken.

A QinetiQ spokeswoman said: “Demilitarisation of life-expired munitions by cage burning is a routine operation conducted regularly at Ministry of Defence Shoeburyness.

“As with all hazardous activities conducted on site, this process had been risk assessed and conducted by fully trained staff.

“During the preparation of a cage burning operation, an incident occurred, in which no one was injured. In accordance with QinetiQ's procedures this was appropriately reported to the Health and Safety Executive who subsequently requested that QinetiQ reviews its processes and the associated risk assessment.”

About 300 people work at the site with up to 11 involved in the cage burning The firm said it had taken the appropriate steps to ensure all improvements were addressed.

The notice said: “You have not made a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees, or provided the relevant information from the assessment to employees, involved in the preparation of explosive articles for disposal by cage burning.”

Although QinetiQ has now complied with the notice, the executive could still prosecute the firm over the original failings.

An executive spokeswoman said: “The HSE investigation is ongoing, so we cannot comment further.”

Comments (5)

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4:52pm Thu 20 Mar 14

John Bull 40 says...

Storm in a teacup springs to mind.
Storm in a teacup springs to mind. John Bull 40
  • Score: 6

4:59pm Thu 20 Mar 14

carnmountyouknowitmakessense says...

John Bull 40 wrote:
Storm in a teacup springs to mind.
Really ? how about 18000 rounds of 20 mm cannon shell, in a cage, ready to be "Burnt" when you skimp on safety, of course you can do it cheaply, its an accident waiting to happen over there
[quote][p][bold]John Bull 40[/bold] wrote: Storm in a teacup springs to mind.[/p][/quote]Really ? how about 18000 rounds of 20 mm cannon shell, in a cage, ready to be "Burnt" when you skimp on safety, of course you can do it cheaply, its an accident waiting to happen over there carnmountyouknowitmakessense
  • Score: 3

5:59pm Thu 20 Mar 14

keepitreal says...

Again private enterprise puts money ahead of the possibility of death. Hang the directors I say
Again private enterprise puts money ahead of the possibility of death. Hang the directors I say keepitreal
  • Score: 5

9:27pm Thu 20 Mar 14

rude boy says...

That's about right a company cutting corners
That's about right a company cutting corners rude boy
  • Score: 1

11:57am Fri 21 Mar 14

Corvus Corax says...

The incident described, has a root cause in the changes to QinetiQ introduced by the current CEO Leo Quinn. He has reduced the workforce across the UK from 7,300 to less than 4,000, most of those forced out had technical, scientific, or defence knowledge. The capable staff who are left, are bullied by a brutal, self serving ideologically driven managerialism. Leo Quinn's regime, has removed union representation, and keeps senior management close to him by paying huge bonuses.
The incident described, has a root cause in the changes to QinetiQ introduced by the current CEO Leo Quinn. He has reduced the workforce across the UK from 7,300 to less than 4,000, most of those forced out had technical, scientific, or defence knowledge. The capable staff who are left, are bullied by a brutal, self serving ideologically driven managerialism. Leo Quinn's regime, has removed union representation, and keeps senior management close to him by paying huge bonuses. Corvus Corax
  • Score: 6

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