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Sheffield steel forger fined £1m after worker burned in explosion

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A Sheffield steel fabricator has been fined £1m after a worker suffered life changing burns injuries when an oxygen pipe exploded in front of him.


Sheffield Crown Court heard the A 57-year-old employee of Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Limited endured severe third degree burns in the aftermath of the explosion on 9 August 2013.

The court were told an in-house contractor was carrying out the work to fit a valve to an oxygen pipe that carried pure oxygen.The worker was carrying out checks when he heard hissing from the valve. While investigating the noise, the pipe and valve erupted in flames.

The injured person was initially not expected to survive, having been kept in a coma for several weeks and undergoing several skin grafts for severe third degree burns.

HSE’s 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, they found. No action had been taken to train employees or set 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.

Speaking after the hearing investigating HSE inspector Carol Downes said: “This incident could have been avoided if simple checks had been carried out.

“Duty holders should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the require standard.”

Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering makes steel for its own castings and forgings to manufacture parts for the nuclear, engineering, petrochemical, and oil industries. The company posts annual revenues of in excess of £70m.

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