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Oil Plant Operator Sentenced Over Safety Failure

The operators of the Grangemouth Oil Refinery have been sentenced for safety failings relating to an incident in which a worker was injured at the plant.

The employee was carrying out a cleaning operation on a vent pipe, and while opening a vent valve on a walkway 25 meters above ground, was sprayed in the face by low pressure steam.

Despite wearing regulation Personal Protective Equipment, including a hard hat and safety glasses, the worker was left injured and disorientated, and as he was working so high up, in danger of possibly falling from the platform, though there was handrails attached to the platform.

The worker’s disorientation was so bad that colleagues who had come to the injured man’s aid had to physically restrain him until a crane rescue was carried out to get him off the platform.

The man required an overnight stay in hospital and follow-up treatment for six weeks, suffered initial blurred vision, and has been left with a small scar on his forehead.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard the subsequent Health and Safety Executive investigation revealed a failing by the accused in the risk assessment process, which had not identified the potential hazard of the discharge of steam directly towards an operator.

The court was told 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 company pleaded 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 Act 1974 and was fined £24,000.

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