THE Atomic Weapons Establishment has handed back awards it won for safety in the wake of a court case into a fire at its Aldermaston base.

Last year, a judge fined the nuclear weapons firm £200,000 after a fireball erupted in the face of a Basingstoke employee in August 2010. The prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Now, AWE has returned three gold safety awards presented by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for an “excellent” safety performance in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

A statement from AWE said the firm had “worked together with RoSPA” to “re-evaluate the appropriateness of the awards which AWE plc had received since the incident”.

The statement said AWE had agreed to return all gold awards since the date of the incident to “ensure the integrity of the RoSPA award scheme is maintained.”

Julie Taylor, AWE plc’s director of environment, health, safety and quality, said: “We have worked very closely with RoSPA on this issue and feel that this is the right decision.

“AWE plc believes that only companies with consistently exemplary performance should be recognised with the highest levels of awards.

“AWE plc did not meet the standard on this occasion which is why we reflected on the appropriateness of the awards and agree with RoSPA that they should be returned. AWE remains fully committed to achieving the highest standards in safety performance.”

After the fire, AWE plc instigated an independently chaired investigation and has been working to implement its recommendations and those made by the Health and Safety Executive.

RoSPA Gold Awards are awarded to organisations which have “achieved a very high level of performance, demonstrating well developed occupational health and safety management systems and culture, outstanding control of risk and very low levels of error, harm and loss”.

Criteria for receiving an award include no major injuries due to employer negligence and no significant enforcement issues facing the organisation.