Last reviewed 28 June 2021

A textiles manufacturer has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he was covered by hot dye and steam during a maintenance job.

South Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 June 2019, a maintenance worker employed by Guilford Europe Ltd was checking a fault on an industrial dye pressure vessel, used to dye long lengths of fabric, after steam had been seen coming from the main drain vent. A valve was slightly open and air lines were removed and replaced in incorrect positions, which caused the valve to instantly open releasing 6000 litres of hot dye liquor. The employee suffered 20% burns to his body including both arms, legs and buttocks.

Investigating Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officers found that the company did not have effective procedures in place for fault-finding when employees encountered a problem with machinery. There were no instructions to employees on what constituted fault-finding or at what stage, isolation of the plant was required. Neither was there any requirement for a permit system for undertaking maintenance on pressure systems. There was also an insufficient level of monitoring in place to review maintenance operations to ensure employees were working safely.

Under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000, all pressure equipment and systems should be properly maintained.

  • There should be a maintenance programme for the system as a whole. It should take into account the system and equipment age, its uses and the environment.

  • Look for tell-tale signs of problems with the system, eg if a safety valve repeatedly discharges this could be an indication that either the system is overpressurising or the safety valve is not working correctly.

  • Look for signs of wear and corrosion.

  • Systems should be depressurised before maintenance work is carried out.

  • Ensure there is a safe system of work, so that maintenance work is carried out properly and under suitable supervision.

Guilford Europe Ltd of Alfreton pleaded guilty of breaching s.2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,751.60.