Friday, 19 December 2014

Inadequate pressure testing area causes back injury

Aberdeenshire company Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd, trading as ACE Winches, was fined £10,000 after a young apprentice was injured when he was struck on the back by a pressurised hose.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on 25 July 2012 in a pressure testing area.
  • The pressure testing area was segregated from the rest of the workshop by striped plastic tape.  
  • If the position of the tape was far enough away from the item under test, this would be an adequate control method. 
  • However, there was no system for calculating the safe distance and the size of the testing area was left up to the individual doing the testing.
  • The company failed to provide formal training to staff carrying out the testing.
  • The apprentice approached a pressure testing area to collect something from his toolbox when he heard a loud noise coming from the hoses, which were being tested. 
  • He saw a hose whip up in the air and as he turned it struck him on the back causing him to fall to the ground
  • There had been previous failures of this kind in the past, which the workshop management were aware of, but as they did not cause the hose to whip up in the air, workers continued to carry on testing in the same way.
  • At the time, the company was building a testing booth which is now complete and used for all pressure testing activities.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident could have easily been avoided if Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd had carried out a risk assessment for the pressure testing of hose assemblies, which would have identified the safety measures required to reduce any risks. The need for pressure testing to be segregated from other work and for employees not to be allowed to approach any equipment while it is under pressure is well documented in guidance, which is readily available. In this case the young apprentice was lucky to receive only cuts and bruises, his injuries could have been a lot worse.”

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