The ongoing major incident at a wood mill in Bosley, Cheshire, is a stark reminder of the importance of hazardous area equipment in order to ensure such a disaster is never allowed to happen again.
In the UK, the stringent rules regarding workplace health and safety, and ever-evolving research into risks and their management, all help to reduce the likelihood of a serious incident.
However, workplace injuries and fatalities sadly do still occur, with falls from height and exposure to asbestos among the common everyday threats.
As the Bosley incident shows though, a single major incident can have far-reaching repercussions; the final fatality count is likely to be four, and 35 people in total were directly affected by the explosion.
This is, of course, not the first major explosion, coming less than a decade after the Buncefield oil depot ignited in a fuel-air explosion that resulted in the UK’s biggest-ever peacetime blaze.
It is also just a year since the 40th anniversary of the Flixborough disaster, an explosion at a nylon plant that killed 28 and injured 36 people.
Hazardous area equipment may not prevent gas and chemical leaks, but what it can do is to remove the source of ignition by cutting electricity supplies, adding surge protection to circuitry, or safely sealing away any lighting elements that might be hot.
Incidents will always occur in some form; but by safeguarding against explosions in the presence of substantial quantities of fuel, we can work to ensure this kind of major incident is unable to occur.