A manufacturing company of high-pressure gas cylinders has been fined after the death of a factor worker following a routine testing job in June 2015.
The 64 year old worker was leak testing eight 1,500 litre cylinders. The process involves applying compressed air inside the cylinders, to create pressure to test the strength against leaks. Whilst the worker was in the process of venting the air, having found no evidence of any leaks, it failed and shrapnel ejected from the testing equipment and the worker died on site.
During the HSE hearing, investigators discovered that prior to installing all the cylinder fittings, 1.5 litres of a mineral oil-based corrosion inhibitor had been placed inside all of them. It seems that during the leak test and the subsequent venting, this inhibitor contaminated leak test manifold, and combined with enough pressure inside, this ignited and caused the test equipment to fail.
Following the hearing at Sheffield Crown Court, Chesterfield Special Cylinders were found guilt of beaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety work act, and were fined £700,000 with additional costs of £169,498. This penalty must be paid in full by January 2023.
HSE inspector Eddy Tarn speaking after the trial said 'Companies should accurately identify and control all potential hazards in the workplace and thereafter monitor performance through effective supervision'. Chesterfield failed to acknowledge any potential hazards or risks associated with the testing, nor did they have sufficient processes in place, for any incidents that might arise and how colleagues/supervisors can monitor and prevent these.
Chris Walters, CEO of Pressure Technologies (who owns special cylinders), admitted to the failings but did note that since the tragic event in June 2015 'we have made significant changes and improvements to the way we operate at the Chesterfield Special Cylinders site and across all group sites as we continually strive to improve the safety of our operations and our employees'