Violent discharge of gas bottle seriously injured two engineers

An engineering company has been sentenced after two employees were seriously injured during work to dispose of old gas cylinders at the company site in Hull in January 2017.

Beverley Magistrates heard how the defendant was engaged to decommission nine gas cylinders believed to contain oxygen. The pressure release valve on one nominally empty cylinder was ‘stuck’ and could not be removed.

The workers dislodged the valve using a hammer causing the cylinder and valve to separate violently as gas which remained in the cylinder was released.

Risk not assessed and safe system not implemented

The cylinder “fired into the workshop” and struck two employees who were standing inside. The employees suffered serious injuries to their lower limbs requiring multiple surgeries and spent several weeks in hospital. One of the injured workmen has not been able to return to work.

HSE investigators found there was no safe system of work in place for the decommissioning and disposal of old gas cylinders and the company had not carried out a suitable risk assessment to identify the associated risks.

The company from Hull pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 2(1) and was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,687.00.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector James Harvey said:

“This case highlights the serious risks posed by gas cylinders and how the correct disposal as well as cylinder handling and storage is fundamental to ensuring safety.”