A maintenance contractor was carrying out repair work on a mixing vessel in 2018. This was during a planned period of shutdown maintenance. It is thought that flammable vapour was accidentally ignited by his welding torch or grinder. This should not have been present when the work took place. Working with the contractor at the time of the blast was his own son.
Investigation of the Explosion
The Health & Safety Executive conducted an investigation. It was found that Toluene residue was left in the vessel after cleaning. The Toluene supply pipe also had two damaged valves. These valves were leaking. Operatives moved Toluene from one storage tank to another. The pipe allowed flammable liquid to leak. This entered the vessel, which was meant to be both empty and clean.
The widow of the maintenance contractor also spoke in court. ‘This has been horrendous for both our sons, particularly Owen having to deal with actually being there at the time. Our lives changed forever that day. He will miss seeing our sons’ lives develop and grandchildren in years to come.’
The chemical company failed to complete necessary measures to prevent the explosion. They were in breach of Regulation 5 of the COMAH Regulations 2015. £1 million in fines was issued. £10,967.20 was also payable in costs.
After the hearing, an inspector from the HSE spoke. ‘HSE hope that this case helps to communicate important safety messages to wider industry so that other fires and explosions are prevented in future.’
What Can You Do?
It’s very important to be aware of any safety regulations that apply to your company. It is also vital to ensure that your employees are working safely by ensuring that you have an adequate and up to date risk assessment.More News