asked the Secretary of State for Employment what instructions he has given to the Health and Safety Commission, following the Barking explosions, regarding the inspection of factories which store or manufacture noxious and other dangerous materials in heavily populated areas; how many of these types of factories exist in the Bury and Radcliffe constituency; when they were last inspected; if the commission is satisfied that all safety precautions have been implemented within these factories to its complete satisfaction; and if he will make a statement.
No instructions have been given to the Health and Safety Commission. As I announced in my statement of 22 January 1980, an investigation is being carried out into the accident at Barking by the Health and Safety Executive, and when this is completed the findings and any recommendations will be made public.Within the Bury and Radcliffe constituency there are about 650 premises registered under the Factories Act 1961 at the Health and Safety Executive Greater Manchester area office. Of these only one factory comes within the scope of the Fire Certificates (Special Premises) Regulations 1976. It was noted on a visit to this factory in June 1979 that recommendations made an a previous inspection had been substantially dealt with.The other factories are inspected to a programme based on the known standards, the potential hazard to employees and the public—including those deriving from the store or manufacture of noxious and other dangerous materials in heavily populated areas—and the standards of management control.Where serious deficiencies are found, follow-up visits are made and in all cases representatives of the workplace as well as management are informed of the action which the inspector proposes.I am conscious of general concern arising from the Barking incident and if the investigation reveals a need for specific action by the HSE this will be taken.