Oil drum exploded during hot cutting work

Firm fined £400k after drum lid ejected causing loss of leg

A commercial vehicle dealer has been fined after a workman lost his leg from the knee down when an oil drum he was cutting up exploded in January 2017.

Reading Magistrates heard how the employee was injured when he used oxy-acetylene gas cutting equipment to cut up empty oil drums. The flame from the gas cutting equipment came into contact with the drum which exploded when the flammable vapour inside the drum ignited.

The explosion resulted in the drum lid hitting his lower right leg and the main body of the drum landed approximately 20m away.

Safer disposal options not secured

HSE investigators found that the company failed to provide a safe system of work to dispose of the stockpile of empty oil drums.

The risk of fire and explosion from flammable vapour residues in the empty drums was not identified and safer disposal options were not secured.

The investigation also found the company failed to provide adequate instruction, supervision and training on the risks associated with the use of oxy-acetylene gas equipment.

  • Rygor Commercials Limited – of The Broadway, West Wilts. Trading Estate, Westbury, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and have been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9671.55.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Nancy Harman said:”Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.

If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented”