A plant controller working for ScottishPower Generation Limited (SPGL) was injured when he opened a faulty valve which emitted high pressure, high temperature steam at the coal-fired power plant. He sustained serious burns to his chest and legs. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that SPGL had been aware of the defect for more than four years, but did not ensure appropriate steps were taken to either repair or remove the valve from use.
In May 2009, it was discovered an index plate was missing from the valve. At that time, the valve was “locked off” with a chain and padlock to prevent its use. This was to be a short-term measure until a repair was carried out but this was never done. In March 2013, it was discovered that the chain and padlock had been removed. It has never been established who did this, when or why.
Fifteen days before the accident, a contractor saw steam was escaping from the valve. He filled in a work order card for the repair to be done within a month. On the day of the accident, Mr Roscoe saw steam coming from the valve and when he tried to stop this by turning it slightly he was badly scalded by steam, mainly to his lower body.
ScottishPower Generation Limited, of, Atlantic Quay, Robertson Street, Glasgow pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £1.75million. Sheriff MacNair judged the company’s level of culpability for the incident as “high”. He said there were too many safety questions to which they had no answers.
The HSE principal inspector Fiona MacNeill said after the hearing, “The plant controller suffered severe and life changing injuries. This case has highlighted the importance for every employer of ensuring that systems are in place for maintaining work equipment in a safe condition, efficient working order and in good repair”
Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental consultancy. For more information on the services we provide, and how we can help you, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us.