Fire and explosion at an oil refinery leads to £1.65 Million fine

The oil and gas industry around the world has been responsible for many serious incidents of fire and explosion, some of which have claimed lives and some of which has resulted only in property damage. Start up is a notoriously dangerous time in the process safety of the plant. In this case, Liverpool Crown Court was told that during the start-up of the main distillation unit, highly flammable hydrocarbons entered an unused furnace. Heat from another furnace triggered the blast, which started several fires that the fire service had to bring under control. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, which happened in November 2013. The incident caused more than £20m worth of damage, including collapsed internal structures.

The explosion was reported to the EU as a major accident under schedule 7 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found that Essar had incorrectly installed a safety critical valve and had failed to properly validate its operation. The installation of a new safety-critical trip was also inadequately assessed by Essar as it did not note the system had a bypass line which defeated the trip’s operation. Though the company’s policy was to isolate main fuel lines to the furnace, a secondary fuel line had not been isolated during the shutdown. This allowed the hydrocarbons to enter the furnace, the HSE said.

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Health And Safety Failings – Worker Killed By Falling Boxes

Worker Killed By Falling Boxes

The Case

A Plymouth firm has been prosecuted after a worker was fatally injured when a stack of boxes of frozen fish fell on him. The 22-year-old employee was helping to clear a fallen stack of boxes in a cold store area of the factory when another stack of boxes fell and struck him. He received multiple serious injuries which proved fatal.

The subsequent HSE investigation found that there was no safe system of work in place, and staff were not given adequate instruction on how pallets could be safely stored. There was no written procedure for dealing with falls of stock.

The case was heard at Plymouth Crown Court where the firm pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  They were fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,800.

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Health And Safety Failings: Farm worker seriously injured in quad bike incident

Farm worker seriously injured in quad bike incident where he was not provided with a helmet

Key Facts

  • The HSE have urged farmers to wear helmets while riding quad bikes after a worker was seriously injured
  • A 17-year-old worker sustained serious head injuries in an incident in 2014, where he had not been provided with a helmet
  • The firm was fined £6,000 plus costs of £4,693.

The Case

A 17-year-old farm worker was seriously injured in a quad bike accident, prompting an agricultural safety chief to urge farmers not to ignore simple life-saving advice and wear helmets while riding quad bikes.

In an incident in April 2014, the farm worker was trapped underneath an overturned quad bike for an hour. He sustained a serious head wound that later needed 17 stitches.

The worker was instructed to use the farm’s quad bike, but was give no training and was not provided with a helmet to wear.

The case was heard at Carlisle Magistrates Court where the company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. They were fined £6,000 plus costs of £4,693.

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Health and Safety Failings – Pub Worker Fined For Gas Failings

Pub Worker Fined For Gas Failings

This is another case of gas work being carried out by unqualified workers. An HSE investigation was launched into the safety practices of a Torquay pub worker after gas failings were identified at a flat in Torquay. The homeowner requested commissioning documentation for the new gas boiler, but it was not provided, and so he alerted the HSE to his concerns.

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