AN adhesive manufacturer has been fined £40,000 after two employees were injured in a major fire and 'explosion' in its Stoneclough factory.

One employee suffered facial burns and another had to be treated with oxygen following the blaze at Bankfield Mills, in Ringley, on April 28, 2015.

ITAC Limited has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and had to pay more than £8,000 in costs after appearing at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court.

The firm's managing director said they are "deeply sorry that this tragedy ever happened".

HSE had taken enforcement action against the adhesive and coating firm prior to the factory fire amid concerns there were poor conditions in the handling, storage and management of risks from flammable liquids, the court heard.

The regulator for workplace health and safety took further enforcement action against ITAC following the fire, which stopped production at the Bank Field Street site for five months.

An investigation by HSE found that an untrained and unsupervised employee had tried his own method to unload and filter a flammable glue product from a mixing machine.

The resulting spark within the storage container ignited a fire which caused an explosion that spread burning glue around the factory, destroying a large section of the mixing area.

HSE inspector Ron Griffiths said: "This case shows the need to assess all of the risks of a process to establish a safe system of work and ensure that the system is then followed.

"Standards for the safe handling and storage of dangerous materials such as highly flammable liquids are long established and copies of guidance are available for free on HSE’s website.

"Employers should check they are complying with the established accepted practice and that their staff understand the hazards and risks of not following the established safe system of work."

Around 20 firefighters were called to the site and pumped water from the River Irwell to bring the blaze under control.

A worker, in his 40s, had to be airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital, while another employee was treated at the scene.

ITAC has pleaded guilty to Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 — the employer's general duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees.

The firm was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8309.74.

Itac managing director Paul Armitt said: "Itac has a tremendous safety record. We are deeply sorry that this tragedy ever happened.

"At the time, our main concern was for the man who was taken to hospital and his colleague who was injured whilst helping him to safety. I am pleased to report that both men are fully recovered and back at work.

"We are now three years on and operating from our new manufacturing facility. Built on the same site, with safety a key feature, our new factory is designed to limit the possibility of future fire.

"Only last summer many of our near neighbours and members of the local Stoneclough community came along to join in the celebration party after the Mayor of Bolton opened the factory.

"It was a wonderful day, one we will all remember for a very long time."