The operators of the Grangemouth oil refinery have been fined £24,000 for safety failings related to an incident in which a worker was injured at the plant.
The decision came after a Petroineos employee was sprayed in the face by low pressure steam.
The worker had been in regulation personal protective equipment including a hard hat and safety glasses at the time of the incident.
But the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker had been left injured and disorientated and was “in danger” of falling from the platform he was working on.
The man had been carrying out a cleaning operation on a vent pipe and had been opening a vent valve on a walkway which was 25 metres above the ground.
It is understood the man’s disorientation following the incident meant colleagues had to restrain him until a crane rescue was initiated to get the injured man off the platform.
Falkirk Sheriff Court heard the subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed a failing by the accused in the risk assessment process which had not identified the potential hazard of the discharge of steam directly towards an operator.
The court was told simple, low cost, steps could have been taken to eliminate the hazard such as fitting a short pipe extension to ensure any steam was discharged safely away from the operator.
The man required an overnight stay in hospital and follow-up treatment for six weeks, suffered initial blurred vision, and has been left with a small scar on his forehead.
Independent crude oil refiner, Petroineos Manufacturing Scotland Ltd of Grangemouth Oil Refinery, Bo’ness Road, Grangemouth (previously known as Ineos Manufacturing Scotland Limited), pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 12(1) of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £24,000.
HSE investigating inspector Christina Woodrow said: “This incident emphasises the need for employers to assess the risks from routine tasks in the location they will be carried out and to ensure where practicable that risks from emissions are controlled at source other than relying on personal protective equipment.
“Employers should not assume that when a procedure is carried out without incident that it is safe only a rigorous approach to hazard identification and risk assessment will ensure this.”
A spokesman for Petroineos said: “Petroineos can confirm that during a planned operation in October 2012 to clean out a piece of machinery using steam, regrettably a superficial injury occurred to a refinery employee.
“At the time of the incident the piece of equipment was not in use and was being steam cleaned pending maintenance.
“An on site response team provided our employee with first aid treatment. Given that the machinery was not in use and was being steam cleaned there was no risk to the local
environment or to any other employees.
“The circumstances leading to the incident were subject to a full and thorough internal investigation and the Health & Safety Executive were kept fully informed.
“Recommendations to prevent reoccurrence were identified by Petroineos and these were immediately acted upon.
“The Company’s high level of cooperation and proactive response was commented upon by the Health & Safety Executive.
“Petroineos takes its responsibility for the safety and health for employees, contract personnel and neighbours very seriously, and is fully committed to its continuing delivery of
responsible health, safety and environmental performance across all its operations.”