Monday, 4 May 2015

Pirelli fined nearly £200K after death in autoclave

Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has been fined £196,706 (inc. costs) after an employee died when he became trapped in an industrial autoclave for more than two hours.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on an industrial autoclave which was used to heat rubber tyre beads up to 145°C. During its operation, steam would be piped into the vessel under pressure, creating a deadly atmosphere containing little or no oxygen.
  • It had a heavy, circular pressure-door on the autoclave which could not be opened from the inside.
  • There was no way for anyone inside the machine to stop the cycle once it had begun.
  • Employees occasionally entered the autoclave to pick up fallen beads when the pressure-door was open between cycles.
  • However, despite this, Pirelli failed to identify the autoclave as a confined space. 
  • There were no measures in place to prevent access to the autoclave.
  • There was also no system for checking the autoclave before the door was shut and the operating cycle was started.
  • On 30 September 2012 George Falder had entered the autoclave and his body was found inside just after 6pm.

The HSE inspector said:
“George Falder’s tragic death has had a devastating impact on his family and friends. His colleague had no way of knowing anyone was inside when he switched on the machine because the company did not have systems in place to stop this from happening. Pirelli failed to identify the risk posed by workers entering the autoclave. They should either have prevented access, or made sure that the autoclave was properly checked each time before the door was closed and the operating cycle started. If either of these policies had been implemented then Mr Falder’s death might have been avoided.”

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