Shell has been fined £60,000 after a technician was severely injured by a gas cylinder on a North Sea platform.
The incident in November 2014 took place on the Brent Delta installation when a gas cylinder unexpectedly discharged, causing projectiles to strike a worker.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard today that technicians were required to replace a gas cylinder within a system used to extinguish fires on November 9, 2014.
One technician rolled what he thought was an empty cylinder and took off a protective cap, however the cylinder was in fact fully charged which caused an uncontrolled release of gas and a loud bang – resulting in the technician dropping the cylinder which caused the valve to shear, with projectiles severely injuring a second technician.
An investigation from the Health and Safety Executive found the company had failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the risks related to handling of pressurised cylinders were eliminated.
The company failed to remove pressurised cylinders which were not safe for use and had not provided information in respect to safe handling of energised gas cylinders.
Shell said it “deeply regrets” the incident and has since made a number of safety improvements.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard the injuries sustained could have been far worse.
Fiscal depute Shona McJannett said: “Had the projectile come into contact with a chest or head there would have been a real risk of a fatal injury.”
But defence lawyer Rona Jamieson said the company had accepted responsibility and had a good health and safety record and the platform in question won an award for this in 2003.
Imposing a sentence, Sheriff Jack Brown said the level of culpability the company bore for the indicent was “medium.”
Speaking after today’s hearing, HSE inspector David Josiah said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”
Duncan Manning, Shell’s Brent Asset manager, said: “Shell deeply regrets the accident and the injuries sustained by the individuals involved. We subsequently made a number of safety improvements on the platform and more widely across our upstream business.”
“We work in a hazardous environment where safety is our top priority. Shell is determined to deliver safe operations in all phases from production through to decommissioning to ensure that everyone returns home safely at the end of the day. To do this we recognise we must continue to invest and learn lessons at every opportunity.”