Who Checks the Checkers

A recent prosecution highlights the need to ensure that if you use a contractor to provide you with written schemes of examination or statutory through examination on plant or work equipment, you check they are doing what they should be doing.

Prosecuted following an accident

Brintons Carpets and Allianz Engineers were recently prosecuted following an accident in June 2013 where a pressurised dying vat located on a mezzanine floor, exploded, following the failure of a pressure regulator and pressure release safety valve failure.

The force of the explosion tore the 250kg lid off its hinges and lifted into the air before striking a roof beam and causing damage. The lid then landed on the mezzanine floor, before falling off and landing on the floor below, narrowly missing an employee.

The explosion was caused by the regulator and valves failure due to corrosion. While Brintons had a formal written scheme of examination, which included four dye vats, its contractor Allianz had not completed the examination of the vats for three years, despite examining other equipment listed on the written scheme.

As the owner of the equipment Brintons held the statutory duty to maintain the equipment in a safe state and also to ensure that everything covered by the written scheme of examination was examined by a competent person within the intervals specified in the scheme.

Failed to maintain equipment

Clearly they failed to maintain the equipment in a safe condition, but more importantly they had no systems in place to check Allianz were undertaking the tasks contracted to them.

This failure to have systems in place to ensure statutory examinations take place on time is a common failure across many organisations as they rely on examiners such as Allianz to check things correctly and on time, but fail to check this is happening not just on pressure equipment, but also lifting equipment, Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems, legionella controls and many other items of plant and work equipment.

Health & Safety procedures

In this case a simple diary entry and maintenance and examination checking system could have saved this accident happening and saved Brintons Carpets over £10,000 and Alliance over £14,000.

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