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PS1.3m fine after man seriously hurt at work.

Byline: DAVE ROBSON @Daverobson_gaz

Sembcorp ENERGY giant Sembcorp has been fined PS1.35m after an accident which left a worker with "catastrophic" lifechanging injuries.

Two other firms - R&A Kay Inspection Services and Central Industrial Services - were also fined for the incident in which Dennis Chadwick was badly hurt. Mr Chadwick - who worked for R&A Kay - suffered a serious leg injury when a pressure test at Sembcorp's Wilton 10 biomass boiler went badly wrong on December 3, 2013.

As the test was being carried out, a burst disc ruptured and a connector and hose became detached, striking and badly injuring Mr Chadwick's leg.

Mr Chadwick, whose right leg was amputated below the knee in July this year, attended court in his wheelchair to hear Judge Simon Hickey deliver his judgment. Fining Sembcorp Utilities UK PS1.35m plus costs for two breaches of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974, the judge ruled the firm had "high culpability" for the accident.

CIS, which faced the same two charges as Sembcorp, was fined PS120,000 and R&A Kay, which faced one charge, was fine PS37,500, plus costs. Fines in such cases are in part assessed against the size of the defendants' turnover.

All three firms had pleaded guilty and Judge Hickey was yesterday delivering his final judgment.

The judge said that during the tests, the bursting disc was set to an incorrect pressure, causing it to burst unexpectedly. Saying Mr Chadwick had not been briefed on the test procedure, he said: "He was not told beforehand who was going to perform this inherently dangerous pressure test. He was not told any pressure limits. Nor was he told of a safe zone while the test was under way."

Calling it a "catastrophic mechanical failure of pressure testing equipment," he noted how Mr Chadwick had needed "dozens of operations" since the accident and had his leg amputated below the knee in July. "It is, in my judgment, physical impairment resulting in lifelong dependency on third party care for basic needs."

He said Sembcorp's culpability was "high" for reasons, including that no account was taken of the testing rig itself, there was insufficient communication, no effective exclusion zone, no "unified, safe procedure" and no other safety mechanism within the system.

Speaking after the ruling, Stephen Hands, senior vice president and site director of Sembcorp Utilities UK, said: "We are extremely sorry about the injury that Mr Chadwick has received and about the distress that this incident has caused to him and his family.

"Mr Chadwick has suffered a lifechanging injury and we apologise unreservedly for the part we played in the circumstances leading to the accident. We take health and safety very seriously and following the accident cooperated fully with the Health and Safety Executive investigation and pleaded guilty to the two offences at the earliest opportunity.

"We have also carried out a thorough internal investigation and have reviewed and updated our documentation, procedures and training relating to pressure testing and similar activities to ensure that this type of incident will not occur again."

Mr Chadwick told how the accident changed his life for ever.

He said: "It has been nearly four years since I was injured. My life changed that day and the impact on my family and me has been immense.

"In July, I had my leg amputated from the knee down and I will now have to learn to walk with a prosthetic but I am determined to get my life back."

HSE principal inspector Victoria Wise said: "All three companies failed Mr Chadwick. If appropriate pressure relief had been fitted and the companies had put in place a system of work that was safe then Dennis would not have exposed to the harm he suffered."
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2017
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