An Aberdeenshire firm has been prosecuted for safety violations after a young apprentice was injured when a pressurised hose struck him on the back.
When the incident occurred on July 25, 2012, the then-16-year-old from Turriff was working for Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd, trading as ACE Winches, at its Turriff premises.
Today (16 December), Banff Sheriff Court heard that the apprentice approached a pressure testing area to retrieve something from his toolbox when he heard a loud noise coming from the hoses that were being tested. He noticed a hose whip up in the air, and as he turned, it hit him on the back, causing him to fall to the ground.
The teen was taken to the hospital with cuts and bruises, but he recovered completely and returned to work five days later.
The incident was caused by a section of the hose breaking free from its coupling due to insufficient tightening, according to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Previous failures of this type had occurred in the past, which the workshop management was aware of, but because they did not cause the hose to whip up in the air, workers continued to test in the same manner.
The pressure testing area was separated from the rest of the workshop by striped plastic tape, according to HSE. If attached at the proper distance, this could prevent injuries. However, no such safe distance was calculated, and the size of the testing area was left up to the individual performing the testing. It was not possible to determine whether barrier tape had been installed on the day of the incident.
There was no safe system of work in place for the pressure testing of hose assemblies, according to the court, and Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd, which deals in equipment for the offshore oil and gas, marine, and renewable energy industries, also failed to provide formal training to staff performing the testing.
The company was building a testing booth at the time, which is now finished and used for all pressure testing activities.
Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd, t/a ACE Winches, of Towie Barclay Works, Turriff, was fined £10,000 for violating Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
“This incident could have easily been avoided if Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd had carried out a risk assessment for the pressure testing of hose assemblies, which would have identified the safety measures required to reduce any risks,” said HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller in response to the case.
“The need for pressure testing to be separated from other work and for employees not to approach any equipment while it is under pressure is well documented in readily available guidance.”
“In this case, the young apprentice was fortunate to sustain only minor cuts and bruises; his injuries could have been much worse.”