The operator of the Grangemouth power plant in Scotland has been fined £24,000 after a worker was injured in an oil refinery accident.
A Petroineos employee was cleaning a vent pipe when the incident happened in October 2012.
As he was opening a vent valve on a walkway 25 metres above ground, he was sprayed in the face by low-pressure steam.
Despite wearing protective equipment including a hard hat and safety glasses, the man was left injured and disorientated, Falkirk Sheriff Court heard. And because he was working so high up, he could have fallen from the platform.
He was so disorientated that colleagues who had come to his aid had to restrain him until a crane rescue was initiated to get him off the platform.
Worker left scarred
The victim, who had to stay in hospital overnight and required follow-up treatment for 6 weeks, suffered blurred vision and has been left with a small scar on his forehead following the work accident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found failings in the risk assessment process, which had not identified the potential hazard of steam discharging directly towards an operator.
Simple steps could have been taken to eliminate the hazard, such as fitting a short pipe extension to ensure any steam was discharged safely away from the operator, the court was told.
Independent crude oil refiner Petroineos Manufacturing Scotland Ltd (formerly Ineos) was fined after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 12(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE investigating inspector Christina Woodrow says the incident emphasises the need for employers to assess the risks from routine tasks at the location where they will be carried out.
Risks from emissions should be controlled at source other than relying on personal protective equipment, she adds, and employers should not assume that a procedure is safe just because it has been carried out in the past without incident.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: August 18, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown