Last reviewed 23 October 2019

Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd has been fined £1.8 million after an explosion killed two workers and seriously injured another at its steelworks site in Cardiff.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigating officers attended Celsa’s rod and bar mill after an explosion, that would have come without warning to employees Peter O’Brien and Mark Sim, died at the scene. Darren Wood, another employee, suffered serious injuries. Officers determined that a flammable atmosphere had developed within an accumulator vessel that O’Brien and Sim were working on, draining hydraulic lubrication oil from it. The flammable atmosphere was ignited by an electric heater within the accumulator.

The investigation found that the company failed to assess the risks to which its employees were exposed when draining lubrication oil from the accumulator. Manually draining hydraulic lubrication oil from an accumulator using a procedure referred as a “blow down” had developed through the company employees’ local custom and practice; this procedure was not fully understood or consistently carried out by employees, exposing them to the risk of explosion.

Celsa Manufacturing (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was fined £1.8 million and ordered to pay costs of £145,771.85.

Business are reminded that explosive atmospheres can be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. If there is enough of the substance, mixed with air, then all it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion. Explosions can cause loss of life and serious injuries as well as significant damage.