Page last updated at 19:53 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

BAE fined over worker's death in Chorley blast

BAE Systems, Chorley
Lynda Wilkins was working alone when the accident happened

Defence company BAE has been fined £80,000 over the death of a worker who was killed in a blast at its explosives factory in Lancashire.

Lynda Wilkins, of Leyland, was working with lead styphnate, a sensitive primary explosive, in March 2005 when she was killed at the Chorley site.

The Health and Safety Executive brought the prosecution against BAE Systems Land Systems (Munitions and Ordnance).

At Liverpool Crown Court, BAE admitted breaching health and safety law.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been unable to establish the exact cause of the explosion as 47-year-old Mrs Wilkins was working alone.

'Tragic incident'

Investigators found that the company allowed unsafe working procedures to develop by providing too little supervision and monitoring.

BAE Systems, based at Farnborough Aerospace Centre in Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees.

It was was ordered to pay £118,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.

HSE inspector Colin Hutchinson said: "This was a tragic incident and my sympathies go to Lynda Wilkins's family.

"The substance she was using is known to be extremely sensitive and must be handled carefully. BAE Systems failed to ensure the process was properly supervised and monitored.

"Explosives companies must learn from this incident by making sure their safety procedures are both sufficient and rigidly followed to avoid needless loss of life in the future."

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