• Robert Spicer

Molten sulphur burns: health and safety prosecution

Molten sulphur burns: £20,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Total Lindsey Oil Refinery (2015) Grimsby magistrates’ court, June 12

Total Lindsey Oil Refinery has been fined following an incident in which a worker suffered burns from molten sulphur.

Significant points of the case

  • In October 2013 Jack Vickers, a tanker driver, was loading molten sulphur into his vehicle at the company’s premises in North Lincolnshire.

  • He was detaching a special loading lance when he stepped into an open manway lid into molten sulphur. The 140 degree molten sulphur caused serious burns to his right leg.

  • The company had no effective safe system of work in place in relation to the attaching and detaching of the loading lance. The hazard of working on top of the tanker had not been adequately identified or assessed.

  • The HSE served an improvement notice on the company to ensure that safe systems for loading were introduced.

The company was fined £20,000 plus £2600 costs with £120 victim surcharge for a breach of section 3, HSW Act.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that loading molten sulphur was a common task within the refining industry. Total had two other loading units on site with a different system whereby a loading lance does not have to be attached to a loading arm.

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