Sheffield steel firm fined £1 million after worker severely burnt following explosion

Forgemasters. Google Street View
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A 57-year-old employee at Sheffield Forgemasters suffered life changing injuries after an explosion, a court heard.

Sheffield Crown court heard that work was carried out by an in-house contractor to fit a valve to an oxygen pipe that carried 99.9 per cent pure oxygen.

The worker was checking the work and heard hissing from the valve. Whilst investigating the noise, the pipe and valve erupted in flames.

The man person suffered 60- 70 per cent burns in the incident which happened on August 9 2013.

He was initially not expected to survive and underwent several skin grafts and was kept in a coma for several weeks.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that 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.

Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Limited of Brightside Lane, Sheffield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was

fined £1,000,000 with £58,000.45 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Carol Downes commented: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simple carrying out correct control measure and safe

work practices.

“Companies should be are that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd, said: “We are deeply saddened that one of our employees was injured during a maintenance procedure in 2013.

"As a result of this accident, we have worked closely with the HSE during their investigations into the incident and accordingly, we have implemented detailed and robust safety procedures covering oxygen pipelines to prevent this from recurring, as the safety of all people on site is our utmost priority.”

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