• Robert Spicer

Exposure to gas vapour: £160,000 fine

Exposure to gas vapour: £160,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Air Liquide (UK) Ltd (2018) Stoke Combined Court, July 6

Statutory reference: s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

Air Liquide (UK) Ltd, a specialty gas company, has been fined after a worker was overcome by vapour.

The facts

  • In February 2015 four members of the company’s Emergency Response Team were disposing of redundant gas bottles at the company’s site. The work involved two workers cutting the bottles open inside a box, using a hacksaw operated from the outside.

  • One worker, wearing protective equipment, was carrying a cut-open bottle when 50 ml of highly hazardous liquid leaked from it.

  • Vapour from the spillage drifted downwind and affected two unprotected workers. One of the workers collapsed.

  • The work system was inadequate. The Team had not been adequately informed or supervised, nor was the risk of explosion adequately controlled.

The decision

The company was fined £160,000 plus £22,000 costs under s.2 of HSWA.

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