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.