Acetylene cylinder explosion causes serious injury (Britain)

When an employee of a dissolved acetylene filling plant was filling an acetylene cylinder as part of a routine operation, the acetylene solution within the cylinder became unstable and the cylinder exploded, starting a fire which was allowed to burn for eight days, until, after careful consideration, it was extinguished by the Fire & Rescue Service.

The employee suffered multiple lacerations and significant burns to his left thigh, left arm and head.

An investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees and did not take necessary measures to prevent a major accident.

The company was fined £175,000 with costs of £85,000 after admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. No evidence was presented on the other charge concerning a breach of the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Evan Bale, said: “The employee’s serious injuries could have been avoided with some simple measures such as a thorough assessment of the risks, including an identification of human error potential and the design of the work.”

“Acetylene is a colourless gas which is widely used as a fuel and a chemical building block. It is very unstable in its pure form and is normally dissolved in a solution within a cylinder prior to distribution. The company fell below the standard expected for controlling risks associated with handling this hazardous chemical.”

“The plant is a top tier major hazard site and is subject to the COMAH regulations. There is no excuse for any major hazard operator failing to take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents.”

Link to the HSE Press Release.

Proposals to Exempt Self-Employed Persons from HSWA (Britain)

New Regulations are proposed – ‘The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (General duties of Self-Employed Persons) (Prescribed Undertakings) Regulations 2015’ – to set out activities where self-employed persons will continue to have duties under section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974; all others to be exempt from section 3(2) duties.

Section 3(2) duties extend the general duty of employers to their employees set out in section 3(1) of HSWA –
3(1) it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

It is not proposed to alter section 3(1), only section 3(2).

Consultation has been occurring and ends 31st August 2014.

This post will be updated when the Regulations are issued in their final form.

CE Marking and Construction Products (UK)


From 1st July 2013 CE marking of construction products is mandatory.
From 1st July 2014 CE marking of fabricated structural steelwork is mandatory.

Background and Legal Source:

The European Construction Products Directive 89/106/EC introduced the concept of CE marking for construction products as a “passport” entitling products to be placed legally on the market in any Member State. Under the UK’s transposition of the Directive in the 1991 Construction Products Regulations (SI 1991/1620), CE marking was not compulsory.

The European Construction Products Regulation EU 305/2011 (CPR) repeals the Directive and from 1 July 2013, requires construction products to be CE marked when they are placed on the market in all cases where a harmonised European standard exists for the product.

The 2011 EU Regulation also places clear duties on a wider range of economic operators (importers and distributors as well as manufacturers) to ensure that the CE marking requirements and associated obligations are met.

The 2013 Regulations (SI 2013/1087) give effect to the 2011 EU Regulations and set out the offences.

The harmonised standard covering fabricated structural steelwork is BS EN 1090: Execution of steel structures and aluminium structures.

Part 1 of the standard is the Requirements for Conformity Assessment of Structural Components. It describes how manufacturers can demonstrate that the components they produce meet the declared performance characteristics (the structural characteristics which make them fit for their particular use and function).

Part 2 is the Technical Requirements for Steel Structures. It specifies the requirements for the execution of steel structures to ensure adequate levels of mechanical resistance and stability, serviceability and durability. It determines the performance characteristics for components that the manufacturer must achieve and declare through the requirements of Part 1.

BS EN 1090-1 became mandatory on 1 July 2014. It is therefore a legal requirement for all fabricated structural steelwork delivered to site from that date to be CE Marked.

The BCSA has made CE Marking compliance a condition of membership of the Association from 1 July 2014, so selection of any BCSA Member company will guarantee that the steelwork contractor will have the necessary certification to comply with the CPR requirements.

Guidance produced by Tata Steel states “Contracts for fabricated structural steelwork to be delivered to site on or after 1 July 2014 should include the following specifications, which incorporate the obligations of BS EN 1090-1 and BS EN 1090-2 on the steelwork contractor:
• National Structural Steelwork Specification (NSSS) for Building Construction 5th Edition CE Marking Version
• Model Project Specification for the Execution of Steelwork in Bridge Structures (SCI Guide P382) revised January 2012”

The regulator is Local Authority Trading Standards. Queries should be addressed to them.

Link to Trading Standards.

Link to UK Regulations (offences).

Link to EU Construction Products Regulation.