Health and Safety Case Study

Health and Safety Case Study

The importance of excellent health and safety procedures is greater than ever, as can be seen in the following case study:

Health & Safety Case Study

A company was prosecuted for failing to carry out a risk assessment before an explosion at its plant resulted in two fatalities and five more employees being seriously injured

The Case

Two engineers were working together in the basement of the plant, where scrap metal was processed into steel used to reinforce concrete. The men were draining hydraulic lubrication oil from an ‘H system’ accumulator

A highly flammable atmosphere developed within the accumulator and was ignited by an electric heater which should have been turned off during this process, but remained on and so caused the explosion

HSE investigators found that “the company failed to assess the risks of the maintenance work and identify suitable control measures to prevent an explosion.”

The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment for the process of draining lubrication oil from the accumulator, and the investigation found that the process that had been developed for doing this within the company “was not fully understood or consistently carried out by employees, exposing them to the risk of explosion”.

The Crown Court Sentence

Despite the requirement for anyone operating the accumulator to have been fully trained (including in maintenance) some employees had “little or no training in the assessment of risks”. The company was fined £1.8 million plus £145,771 in costs

In the previous 6 months the same company had also been convicted of several other Health & Safety breaches resulting in fines of £50,000 due to an employee injuring their hand, £100,000 for an employee receiving serious electrical burns, and a £200,000 fine after a 3.7-tonne crane fatally injured one of its employees

Case Summary

This case shows the devastating impact of poor H&S procedures within a company, with numerous injuries and fatalities reported at the same company within a 12 month period

It also highlights the importance of a thorough and robust H&S policy and procedure, and the need to follow this and educate all employees and managers throughout the business of the importance of working safely (and keeping each other safe) in order to avoid serious incidents and costly convictions

Make sure your health and safety structure is robust using our Health and Safety Pack

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