Prosecutions Follow Carpet Plant Explosion

HSE Prosecutes Firm And Inspectors After Incident In Telford


A Kidderminster-based carpet firm and an inspection company from Surrey have both been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over an incident when a large pressure vessel exploded at a plant in Telford.

The blast occurred at the Brinton Carpets site at Halesfield in Telford in June 2013. The vessel, which was used for the dying and processing of carpet fibres, detonated with such force that it ripped the quarter-tonne lid off its hinges and sent it flying six metres into the air, where its ascent was only arrested by it striking the roof. It hit with such force that it left a dent in a girder.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, although one member of staff had a narrow escape as the lid landed a few feet away.

The HSE investigation found the explosion had resulted from systemic failures of the regulator and pressure relief valve in the vessel, causing the internal pressures to reach overwhelming levels. It established that Brintons Carpets had not carried out sufficient maintenance on it.

In addition, it had not complied with its statutory duty to carry out a thorough periodic examination, with no such check having taken place for three years.

The HSE also found shortcomings in the role played by Guildford-based Allianz Engineering Services, which had carried out thorough periodic examinations of various pressure equipment appliances at the site, but had neglected to check the four stock dye vats for several years.

Both companies pleaded guilty in the hearing at Telford Magistrates' Court to the charges against them. Brinton Carpets admitted a breach of Regulation 12 of The Pressures Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and was fined £10,000 with costs of £1,174, while Allianz Inspection Systems admitted breaching Regulation 9(2) of The Pressures Systems Safety Regulations 2000. It was fined £13,000 with costs of £1,111.

Responding to the verdicts, HSE inspector Lyn Mizen commented: "It was a matter of pure luck that no one was seriously injured in this incident," adding: "The user of the pressure system and their competent person both failed in their duties."

Expert Opinion
This accident at work is a stark reminder of the dangers workers can face in an industrial environment when health and safety is not treated as a top priority and employers do not take their duty to protect staff seriously. Thankfully, nobody was hurt in this explosion, but the details outlined by the HSE report indicate there was the potential for serious injuries or even fatalities.

"In this case, serious health and safety failings were found that resulted in machinery not being inspected correctly over a long period of time, which put the safety of workers at serious risk. Hopefully, this incident will act as a reminder to all employers of the need to ensure appropriate maintenance is carried out and the latest guidance and regulations from the HSE are followed to avoid putting employees at risk of serious injury."
Stephen Nye, Partner

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