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‘Lessons Must Be Learnt’ From Buncefield Disaster Report

Document Highlights Safety Failings


A new report into the safety failings which led to Buncefield explosion should be carefully considered by all companies involved in hazardous work, an expert at Irwin Mitchell has suggested.

The Buncefield Explosion: Why Did It Happen? Report is based on the Health and Safety Executive and Environment Agency’s investigation and considers events in relation to the five-day fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in December 2005.

Among the findings in the 36-page report is an outline of several failings which could have contributed towards the incident, including deficient management systems for filling petrol tanks and a culture which focused more on continuing operations than safety processes.

Five companies were fined a total of £9.5 million last year for their part in the industrial accident, the effects of which continue to be seen across the local area.

David Urpeth, national head of workplace accidents at Irwin Mitchell, acted on behalf of more than 75 workers and residents who were injured following the fire at the Conoco-Phillips refinery at Killingholme, when 170 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas caught fire.

Discussing the Buncefield report, he said: “We welcome the release of this new report, as hopefully this full assessment of the incident will help firms involved in similar work to take steps that will improve safety for their workers and the local area.

“It is vital, for the sake of all of those still feeling the effects of this terrible industrial accident five years on, that the failings highlighted in this publication are not repeated elsewhere.

“There is evidence that safety at one point was simply not a priority at this site and it seems that the consequences of that failure are there for all to see. Hopefully lessons can be taken away from this that will ensure the same mistakes are prevented in the future.”