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.

Waste Shipper Jailed (England)

Repeat waste crime offender Joe Benson was sentenced (June 2014) to 16 months in prison at Snaresbrook Crown Court for illegally exporting 46 tonnes of hazardous electrical waste to Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and the Congo.

Broken cathode ray tube televisions and ozone depleting fridge freezers were found in four containers intercepted at ports by Environment Agency investigators.

This is the first time a custodial sentence is handed down for illegal waste exports.

Andrew Higham, who leads the Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team, said:

These are not victimless crimes. The rules governing the exportation of waste electrical equipment are in place for good reason, to protect human life and the environment.

It is illegal to send hazardous waste to these countries. Mr Benson has seen fit to flaunt the rules for his own personal benefit. The Environment Agency has a specialist crime unit to track and prosecute criminals who export waste illegally.

Per the EA press release – Working electronics can be exported for resale and there is a legitimate market for used goods. But the law is clear – it is always illegal to send hazardous electronic waste from the UK to developing countries where it could be dumped and burnt to extract precious metals, posing serious risks to people’s health and damage to the environment. They can contain hazardous materials such as lead, phosphors and ozone depleting substances.

Forklift Truck Fatality (Britain)

An employee was using his forklift truck to load a lorry trailer outside his factory workplace when another lorry reversed into the side of his vehicle. The forklift overturned, killing him instantly.

Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that forklift truck drivers had regularly driven onto a public road to load lorries, without the company putting any safety measures in place.

The company had not carried out an adequate assessment of the risks to its employees or visiting drivers using the ‘Goods Out’ area. Drivers were also not given any information, instruction or training on how to load the lorry trailers safely, and there was poor supervision.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Deborah Walker said:

“Our investigation revealed a chaotic and dangerous system, and sadly it was entirely foreseeable that someone was at risk of being badly injured or killed.

“Neither Mr Moran nor the lorry driver had any way of knowing they were both about to start operating their vehicles, and sadly Mr Moran did not have time to get out of the way when the HGV began to reverse.

“Following the incident, the company created a no-parking zone along the ‘Goods Out’ area by Davy Road which means there is now space for forklift truck drivers to load trailers without having to come out into the road. The firm also set up a booking-in system for vehicles delivering to the factory.

“If these simple measures had been in place at the time of the incident then Mr Moran’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

AAK UK Ltd, of King George Dock in Hull, was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £22,657 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “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.”

The HSE press release is here.

Gas Cylinder Fatality (Britain)

Safety failings led to the death of an experienced fire-fighter while he was moving a pressurised gas cylinder during work to clear out a number of disused shipping containers.

Britain’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the circumstances and identified that there was no assessment or consideration of the risk by the employer with regards to how the fire suppression system would be decommissioned safely.

As part of the process, a number of redundant gas cylinders, which were formerly part of a fire suppression system, needed to be removed. An earlier trial heard that the employee was attempting to move a large freestanding cylinder weighing 65kg when the gas in the cylinder discharged very rapidly. This caused the cylinder to spin round violently striking him on his head and body leaving him with fatal injuries.

The Court was then told 13 May that had the removal work been suitably assessed and managed the incident could have been avoided.

Kemble Air Services Ltd, of Cotswold Airfield, Kemble Nr Cirencester was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £98,000 in costs after being found guilty of two breaches of Regulation 3(1) of the management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Regulation 3(1) of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that: “Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work and (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking.”

The HSE press release is here.

Health and Safety Enforcement (Britain)

Britain’s health and safety regulator (the Health and Safety Executive) posts the results of its enforcement action here.

The page is kept updated, scroll down the page for older press releases.

Open a dated link and the report identifies key information about the enforcement action taken.

Subscribers to the paid-for Cardinal regulatory support which accompanies Cardinal Tailored EHS Legislation Registers will address and answer any queries.

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.

HSE Injuries & Fatalities Roundup (19th Feb) (UK)

Improper Asbestos Management (the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006) – Scottish health board guilty of safety failings resulting in worker exposure to asbestos fibres during a seven-year period. Fine is £10,000 for breach of Regulation 4(10)(b). Press release.

Roof Fall (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – farming partnership guilty of safety failings after a worker sustains serious injuries from a fall from the roof of a cowshed during its dismantling. Fine is £6,670 for breach of Section 2(1). Press release.

Work Equipment Risk Failings (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – groundworks company guilty of safety failings after a worker sustains a leg amputation after his leg is crushed between a tractor pulling a heavy water bowser and the bucket of a loading shovel. Fine is £32,000 for breach of Section 2(1). Press release.

Machinery Guarding Failings (angle grinder) (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – company guilty of machinery safety failings after a worker is injured by an unguarded angle grinder. Fine is £8,000 plus costs of £8,985 for breach of Section 2(1). Press release.

Workplace Transport Failings (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – farming business guilty of traffic routing safety failings after a pedestrian is killed by a forklift truck. Fine is £165,000 plus costs of £39,500 for breach of Section 2(1) and 3(1). Press release.

Machinery Stop Failings (saw) (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – company guilty of failing to ensure an injection brake is fitted to a circular saw motor leading to the severing of employee fingers during blockage clearance. Fine is £6,000 plus costs of £2,418 for breach of Section 2(1). Press release.

Machinery Guarding Failings (steel pinch rolls) (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – company guilty of safety failings after a worker’s hand became trapped in a pair of steel pinch rolls leading to crush injuries and the amputation of finger parts. Fine is £25,000 plus costs of £8,320 for breach of Section 2(1). Additional breaches are:
Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 which states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken… to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 which states: “Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of its employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.” Press release.

Ladder Fall (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – owners of a business park guilty of work at height safety failings after a local worker fractures an ankle in a fall from a ladder while carrying out work in a disused premises nearby. Fine is £7,000 plus costs of £1,355 for breach of Section 3(1). Press release.

Lifting Equipment Failings (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) – manufacturer of chains for conveyor belts, escalators and forklift trucks guilty of not having a safe system for moving heavy tooling equipment, following worker hand injury (finger amputation). Fine is £80,000 plus costs of £12,696 for breach of Section 2(1). Press release.