AWE agrees to return safety awards following fire prosecution

AWE plc, the company which operates the Atomic Weapons Establishment, has returned three awards presented by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for an “excellent” safety performance following the fire at AWE Aldermaston in 2010 and subsequent fine for breaching Health and Safety legislation.

The fire broke out in an explosives handling building in August 2010, causing injuries to a member of AWE staff and requiring homes in the vicinity of the fire to be evacuated.  Following the fire the Health and Safety Executive led a successful prosecution against AWE plc which resulted in the company being fired £200,000 in Reading Crown Court.  

AWE plc acknowledged that the company “did not meet the standard on this occasion” and, together with RoSPA, has “re-evaluated” the appropriateness of the awards which AWE plc had received from RoSPA since the fire.  Three Gold Awards presented to AWE plc have now been returned to RoSPA.

A press release from AWE plc stated: “Both organisations recognise that it is very important for companies receiving awards to be industry leading. As such, and to ensure that the integrity of the RoSPA award scheme is maintained, we have agreed with RoSPA that it would be appropriate to return all the gold awards given since the date of the incident”.

RoSPA Gold Awards are awarded to organisations which have “achieved a very high level of performance, demonstrating well developed occupational health and safety management systems and culture, outstanding control of risk and very low levels of error, harm and loss”.   Criteria for receiving an award include no major injuries due to employer negligence and no significant enforcement issues facing the organisation.

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