Gas Cylinder Explodes (Britain H&S Enforcement)

Facts: A worker had been filling a cylinder for use in the drink’s industry to 230 bar pressure and was disconnecting the filling hose when the cylinder exploded injuring him causing injury to his leg so severely it later had to be amputated.

Investigation (by Britain’s H&S regulator – the HSE): found the failed cylinder was one of a batch of cylinders which the company had sent to Gaspack, a certified cylinder inspection body, for inspection, testing and certification to prove their safety for a further 10 years. The cylinders had been returned to the company certified as safe to use.

Gaspack’s inspection should have included internal shot blasting to remove corrosion, a thorough internal check to look for cracks or flaws and a hydro test to 345 bar pressure.

HSE found that only the bottom 2/3 of the cylinder had been shot blasted and the rest of the surface was covered in rust. An examination showed the explosion was due to a large crack near the top of the cylinder.

Other cylinders from the same batch had also not been shot blasted near the top 1/3. The layer of rust found in these cylinders would have rendered any internal inspection looking for flaws or cracks meaningless, since they would be concealed by the rust.

An examination of the arrangements at Gaspack also revealed shortcomings in procedures, information, records, competency, supervision and monitoring.

Gaspack Services Ltd of Gellihirion Industrial Estate, Pontypridd, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £60,000 in costs.

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

HSE Press Release is here.

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