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Written by
on 05 March 2013


A Scottish whisky manufacturer has been prosecuted by the HSE after a fire broke out in their warehouse. The incident occurred while two employees were busy filling up casts at the warehouse located on the Great Western Road in June 2009.The men were on a walkway made of metal on the top part of the warehouse. They were filling up 450 lire casks with whisky using hoses that were pumping in the whisky from vats made of steel.

Whisky Set on Fire after Touching an Ignition Source

When they got to the fifth casks one of the employees noticed the hose slacken in his hands; he then heard the liquid shooting out of the vat as it headed towards a forklift. He looked and saw the whisky was shooting up towards a light fitting above the forklift which resulted in a fire breaking out which engulfed the truck. At the same moment the other employee heard a popping sound coming from the forklift truck; the flames then spread across the roof.

The workers ran away from the fire that was heading towards them. They went down the stairs and switched on the fire alarms as they left. The whole site was then evacuated very quickly after the alarms were sounded.

HSE Inspectors Noticed Errors in the Health and Safety of the Warehouse

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that thousands of litres of burning whisky had poured onto the forklift truck. An investigation by the HSE found the aisle lights which were located in the centre of the warehouse were not suitable to be used in an atmosphere that was flammable. If they were properly checked they would have been identified as an ignition risk. The HSE inspectors also discovered that the equipment used for filling the alcohol at pressure was not suitable for the job. The firm, Edrington Group Limited was fined £40,000 for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Fire Risk Assessment

This fire shows the importance of performing fire risk assessments, a legal requirement. With a fire risk assessment it is possible to identify the risks and hazards that need to be controlled. It is vital that ignition risks are spotted and all flammable liquids or materials are not located in the same location of the ignition risks.

Health and Safety consultants are able to perform the assessment for you or provide you with support to ensure it is carried out appropriately. Learn more about health and safety services such as the fire risk assessments by calling 0800 1488 677 today.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.