• Robert Spicer

Death of worker from burns: Yorkshire Water Services fined £733,000

Death of worker: company fined £733,000 Health and Safety Executive v Yorkshire Water Services Ltd (2018) Leeds Crown Court, September 18 Statutory reference: s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA) Yorkshire Water Services Ltd has been fined following the death of a worker from burns. The facts

  • In July 2015 Michael Jennings, a fitter employed by the company, was working in a confined space at Tadcaster Sewage Treatment Works.

  • Oxygen gas injection was used to assist the clean-up process.

  • Jennings was using an angle grinder to cut through of corroded bolts when sparks struck his overalls which burst into flames. He suffered fatal whole body burns.

  • The atmosphere in the confined space was oxygen-enriched which greatly increased the risk of fire.

  • A near-miss report had been recorded at the same place in 2014. The company had concluded that the issue was resolved and that there was no further risk from oxygen enrichment.

  • The company’s risk assessment and permit to work procedures had been inadequate. There were no site-specific procedures and the risk assessment form did not include oxygen enrichment as a possible hazard.

  • Workers did not have the knowledge or experience to recognise that oxygen enrichment was a potential hazard.

The decision The company was fined £733,000 plus £18,000 under s.2 of HSWA.

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