A liquified petroleum gas (LPG) service provider has been fined after a worker suffered serious burn injuries when an LPG vessel ignited.
Worcester Magistrates’ Court heard that on 8 June 2016 an unsecured LPG vessel that an employee was manoeuvring struck another vessel, resulting in the release of LPG at high pressure which then ignited. The S & E LPG Limited worker was caught by the flames. The fire spread to other vessels stored nearby, destroyed a workshop 10 metres away and lasted more than 24 hours.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the offence found empty LPG vessels had not been stored correctly, on and before the date of the incident, and still had a fire and explosion risk. Well established industry standards were not followed. HSE also found the LPG vessel had been moved from Aylesbury to Two Shires Road, Honeybourne, on 11 May 2016, while containing hundreds of litres of LPG. The vessel was not an approved container for transportation of such a large quantity of LPG. This delivery posed a significant risk of fire and explosion on a public highway.
S & E LPG Limited of Two Shires Road, Honeybourne, Evesham, Worcestershire pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 5 of The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 and Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company has been fined £26,600 and ordered to pay costs of £3550.90.
Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Wai-Kin Liu said:
“The worker’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if industry well established standards had been put in place”
LPG is used as a fuel in a range of applications including in heating and cooking appliances, industrial applications, in vehicles and as a propellant and refrigerant. LPG can be obtained primarily as propane, butane or a mixture of the two. A powerful odorant is added so that it is easily detected. LPG is flammable and heavier than air so that it will settle and may accumulate in low spots such drains and basements. Here it could present a fire or explosion or suffocation hazard. LPG is supplied in a variety of ways including in canisters, cylinders and in bulk storage tanks. The HSE provide further details on safety issues relating to small bulk storage and associated installations via www.hse.gov.uk but also provides links to information available on other aspects of the safe use of LPG.
More information, including relevant Codes of Practice, is also available via www.uklpg.org.