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Ethylene Oxide

Volume 886: debated on Tuesday 11 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what form of inquiry is to take place into the leakage of ethylene oxide from a sterilisation plant at the premises of Cyanamid Limited at Gosport and whether the results of the inquiry will be published.

I am informed by the Health and Safety Commission that the inquiry into the incident by means of an investigation by members of the Factory Inspectorate commenced on the day of the incident. Specialist inspectors are participating in the inquiry.A prohibition notice forbidding the continued use of the plant and a similar plant at the works was issued by the inspectorate using its new powers under Section 22 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.There appears to have been a design weakness in the operation of the plant. The investigation is continuing and consideration will be given to any further action which may be required.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many sterlisation plants involving the use of ethylene oxide there are in the United Kingdom.

I am informed by the Health and Safety Commission that the use of ethylene oxide in sterilisation plants in various industries is widespread. Exact figures are, however, unavailable.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the safety precautions covering the industrial use of ethylene oxide.

I am informed by the Health and Safety Commission that the safety precautions governing the industrial use of substances such as ethylene oxide are laid down in the Factories Act 1961 and will be further strengthened by those provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which come into force on 1st April 1975. I am satisfied that if these precautions are adhered to and the recommendations of the inspectorate are followed, ethylene oxide can be safely used in industry.