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Before the disaster: health, safety and working conditions at a plastics factory

Taylor, P. and Connelly, L. (2009) Before the disaster: health, safety and working conditions at a plastics factory. Work, Employment and Society, 23 (1). pp. 160-169. ISSN 0950-0170

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Abstract

On 11 May 2004, nine workers were killed and forty injured in an explosion which devastated the Grovepark Mills plant in Glasgow of ICL Plastics Ltd.This was the worst health and safety incident in Scotland since Piper Alpha in 1988 and the most serious on the Scottish mainland since the 1960s.The narrative presented is that of Laurence Connelly, a production worker with 14 years' service, who left the company only weeks before the disaster. Generated over a series of interviews as part of an independent study of the incident, Laurence's testimony depicts a seriously flawed health and safety regime that left workers exposed to a range of hazards, and recallsTheo Nichols' characterisation of such workplaces as constituting 'potentially injurious structure[s] of vulnerability'. It raises questions about the efficacy of regulatory bodies including the UK's Health and Safety Executive and how such workplaces and whistleblowers within them are treated.