While injuries were avoided, a pair of British employers still got the message that safety is paramount.
A Kidderminster carpet company and a Surrey-based firm have been fined after a large pressure vessel, in which carpet fibers are dyed and processed, exploded, propelling the vessel’s quarter-ton lid six meters into the air.
No-one was injured in the incident at Brinton Carpets Ltd’ssite at Halesfield, Telford on June 4, 2013, but the dangerous incident could have been prevented.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation this September and prosecuted Brintons Carpets Ltd, the owner and user of the pressure vessels and Allianz Engineering Inspection Services Ltd, who were contracted to carry out periodic thorough examinations of the dye vessels.
Telford Magistrates’ Court heard that each of Brintons Carpets’ four stock dye vessels, each described as industrial pressure cookers, were pressurized while in use.
During a production run, one of the vessels exploded. The lid, which weighed approximately 250kg, was torn off its locking mechanism and hinges and hit the roof of the factory six meters above. Such was the force of the collision that it left a dent in one of the factory roof girders.
One worker was standing just a few feet from the where the lid came to rest.
The explosion was found to have been caused by a failure of the vessel’s regulator and pressure relief valve. HSE found Brintons Carpets Ltd had not ensured that suitable and sufficient maintenance of the vessel’s safety devices was being carried out. In addition to this, the periodic statutory thorough examinations had not been completed for three years.
A Written Scheme of Examination was in place at Brintons Carpets Ltd, which included the stock dye vessels in question. Although Allianz Engineering Services Ltd were carrying out periodic thorough examinations on the other pressure equipment on site, the HSE found that the four stock dye vats had been overlooked for a number of years. Allianz Engineering Services Ltd, therefore, failed to carry out the required examinations on the vats properly.
Both Businesses Plead Guilty
Brintons Carpets Ltd of Stourport Road, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 12 of The Pressures Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and was fined more than $16,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly $2,000.
Allianz Inspection Services Ltd of Ladymead, Guildford, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2) of The Pressures Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and was fined more than $21,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than $1,800.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lyn Mizen remarked,“There are clear standards set out in the regulations and strict inspection regimes whereby the user has a duty to ensure that equipment, and its safety devices, are properly maintained. This is backed up by the periodic thorough examinations by competent persons to ensure this is happening and is appropriate and suitable.”
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