Health and safety news: fuel firm fined

Health and safety news: A national oil and environmental services company has been fined £25,000 after a tanker explosion left two workers badly burned.

Adler and Allan Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the incident at its site in Walkden on 5th March 2013.

Manchester Crown Court heard how a subsequent HSE investigation revealed that the company’s procedure for cleaning out the tanker lorry had been unsafe.

A 32-year-old male from Eccles, who wishes to remain unnamed, incurred life-changing injuries. He is now unable to expose his skin to direct sunlight and is unlikely ever to be able to return to work.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Norton said: “Two men were badly burned, with one suffering horrific, life-changing injuries, because their employer didn’t do enough to make sure they stayed safe.”

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The court heard that on the day of the incident the workers were using the tanker to remove fuel from disused pumps at Plant Hill police station in Manchester. After dropping off a load of waste petrol, the men headed to Adler and Allan’s site on Harcourt Street to clean out the inside of the tanker.

Reversing the vehicle into the yard, they opened the rear door on the tanker in readiness to use a pressure washer gun. As this happened, an explosion engulfed both men, triggering a fire that destroyed the side of a neighbouring building.

The HSE’s investigation found that petrol vapour had been allowed to escape into the yard when the tanker door was opened. A subsequent spark from the pressure washer or other ignition source at the site then caused the explosion.

HSE inspector Mr Norton commented: “Adler & Allan is experienced in dealing with flammable substances but its risk assessment for cleaning out the tanker did not identify fire or explosion as a potential danger.

“The firm now uses a specialist contractor to clean out its tankers to avoid the risk of vapours escaping. If this procedure had been in place at the time of the incident then the injuries both men suffered could have been avoided.”

Adler & Allan Ltd, of Station Parade in Harrogate, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 12 December 2014. The company was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £8,166 in prosecution costs.

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