Scaffolder’s Death Leads to Major Fine for Tata Chemicals


Tata Chemicals Europe Limited has been fined £1.125 million following the tragic death of Michael Densmore, a 37-year-old Scaffolder and father of four, who succumbed to injuries sustained while working at the company’s Lostock Hall site in Northwich.

The incident occurred on 30 November 2016, when Mr. Densmore, a scaffolder employed by Altrad NSG, was erecting a scaffold tower in the chemical plant. While stepping over a trough containing calcium hydroxide, heated to approximately 90 degrees Celsius, his foot slipped on an unfastened lid, leading to severe chemical and thermal burns.

Despite receiving specialist treatment and surgery at Whiston Hospital’s burns unit, Mr. Densmore tragically died at home on 3 January 2017, following a haemorrhage to his injured foot.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed significant lapses in safety protocols at the Tata Chemicals site. There was no permit for hazardous work, inadequate risk assessment, and insufficient warning signs about the dangerous conditions.

Crucially, Mr. Densmore had not been informed about the operational chemical troughs or the unfastened lids.

Michael alongside his sons Billy and Mikey

In a heartfelt statement, Mr. Densmore’s family described him as “a loving and amazing role model” and expressed their profound grief: “Our lives fell apart and have not been the same since that terrible day. Nobody should have to lose someone they love due to a workplace accident. The trauma we have all suffered as a family cannot truly be put into words.”


This incident is not the first safety breach for Tata Chemicals Europe, which has faced previous prosecutions related to health and safety failures. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £1.125 million, along with an additional £60,603.54 in costs, at Chester Crown Court on 5 June 2024.

HSE Inspector Matt Lea emphasised the preventable nature of Mr. Densmore’s death, stating, “This tragic death could have been preventable had Michael Densmore and his colleagues been managed under a robust permit to work system for working in a live chemical plant containing corrosive chemicals heated almost to boiling point. Companies should learn the lessons from this incident and ensure robust safety measures are in place.”

The case was prosecuted by HSE enforcement lawyer Chloe Ward and supported by paralegal officer Sarah Thomas.