Friday, 26 September 2014

BAE Systems fined £180,000 after workers leg was shattered during a test firing of a gun

BAE Systems Global Combat Systems Munitions Limited was fined £180,000 (inc. costs) after a worker’s leg bone was shattered while test firing a gun on a range in Northumberland.
The circumstances were:
  • During a test firing on 3 April 2008  an aiming device, known as a boresight, was left in the barrel of the gun when it should have been removed before firing.
  • BAE recognised the hazards of not removing a boresight before firing and had interlocked other guns to avoid this type of incident.  However, they had failed to implement the same standards on this weapon.
  • When the worker fired, a round smashed into the boresight, causing the round to collapse and jam at the end of the barrel. 
  • As a result, the gas which had propelled the round was trapped in the barrel and pressure began to build. 
  • As the employee turned the handle on the breech bolt holding the round, which weighed 7kg, it was expelled with great force into his leg by the trapped gas.
  • The employee was seriously injured, he spent six weeks in hospital and his injured leg is now 20mm shorter than his right.

The HSE Inspector said:
“This is a highly specialised global company whose safety standards should be industry-leading. There were recognised preventative measures that should have been employed to make sure this kind of serious incident could not happen. As a result of their safety failure, a worker suffered a terrible injury. BAE Systems Global Combat Systems Munitions Limited was fully aware of the dangers of not removing a boresight before firing and had fitted interlocks onto their other guns to prevent this type of incident from occurring.  However, the company neglected – for whatever reason – to make sure a similar guarding mechanism was in place with this weapon. This incident emphasises the need for management to ensure preventative measures are effectively implemented on all equipment used at work.”

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