UK Firm Fined $1.29 Million After Worker Suffers Severe Burns

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the 2013 case that involved a contractor’s work on a pipe carrying pure oxygen.

A firm in England has been $1.29 million in a case that involved severe burns to a worker who was working on a pipe carrying pure oxygen when the pipe exploded, the Health and Safety Executive announced. HSE investigated the 2013 case.

The employee, age 57, worked for Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Limited and was injured on Aug. 9, 2013 while trying to fit a valve on the pipe. He heard hissing from the valve and as he investigated the noise, the pipe and valve burst into flames, resulting in third-degree burns to the worker. He was initially not expected to survive, having been kept in a coma for several weeks and undergoing several skin grafts, according to HSE's report.

The investigation "found the oxygen pipe had been fitted with contaminated second-hand flanges and butterfly valve, containing materials unsuitable for use with oxygen. It was foreseeable that work would at some point be undertaken on the oxygen pipelines that ran across the entire site, yet no action had been taken to take control of this line or to implement training or levels of responsibility for management of such work," HSE reported.

Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1,000,000 (equivalent to about $1.29 million in U.S. dollars) and assessed £58,000.45 (about $75,000) in costs. "This incident could have been avoided if simple checks had been carried out," HSE Inspector Carol Downes said. "Duty holders should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the require standard."

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