An oil refinery company was sentenced for safety breaches after a 2013 incident in which two workers suffered life-changing injuries from an uncontrolled release of high pressure and high temperature steam. The two workers, one of whom was an apprentice were re-assembling high pressure steam pipework following maintenance of a steam turbine driven pump.
What were the causes? What went wrong?
During the process, they were exposed to an uncontrolled release of high pressure, high temperature steam of around 250°C. The uncontrolled release resulted in the 53-year-old employee receiving burns to his lower back and legs, and the 20-year-old apprentice receiving extremely serious burns to his torso, chest, arms and legs. At the time of the incident, these injures were life threatening.
Investigation found a series of failures with the company’s “safe system of work”. A number of personnel involved in the implementation of the company’s safe isolation procedure of the steam system had failed to complete all the required checks and verifications to reduce the associated risks.