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The critical process of implementing a risk assessment and safe system of work was clearly disregarded when two employees suffered serious injuries after an oxygen cylinder fired into a workshop.
Two employees of an engineering company were seriously injured during disposal of old gas cylinders at the company site in Hull in January 2017.
It was heard by Beverley Magistrates how the defendant company were enlisted to decommission approximately eight or nine gas cylinders, believed to contain oxygen. The cylinders had been laid outside in the company’s premises. All pressure release valves were open to empty any remaining gas in the cylinders.
Following this process an employee began to remove the pressure release valves from each of the cylinders. When he attempted to remove the valve on the last cylinder it became clear that it was stuck and could not be removed. An additional employee assisted the other worker in trying to dislodge the valve using a hammer. During this time the cylinder and valve separated violently as the gas which remained in the cylinder was abruptly released.
The cylinder proceeded to fire into the workshop, striking two employees stood inside. The employees suffered serious injuries to their lower limbs. Both employees needed multiple surgeries to reverse the damage and spent several weeks in hospital. One of the employees struck by the cylinder has been unable to return to work.
HSE investigators found that there was no safe system of work in place for the decommissioning and disposal of the old gas cylinders. Furthermore the company failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment to identify the associated risks.
Redhall Engineering Services Ltd of Winestead Lane, Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were find £14,000 and ordered to pay costs totalling £2,687.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector James Harvey said:
“This case highlights the serious risks posed by gas cylinders and how the correct disposal as well as cylinder handling and storage is fundamental to ensuring safety.”