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PERMIT TO WORK SYSTEM FAILED TO SECURE SAFETY

Failure to isolate compressed air system causes injury on Power Station site

RWE Npower of  Swindon has been ordered to pay £22k in fines and prosecution costs following an incident at Aberthaw Power Station in 2007.

A contractor was injured while working on a compressed air system. A permit to work had been issued indicating the system had been isolated.

When he opened the system it was ‘still charged’ and he received hand and arm injuries from the escaping compressed air.

Areas declared safe must be safe

HSE Inspector Steve Curry said: “It was the responsibility of the RWE Npower in this case to ensure that areas that they had declared as being safe to work in, were actually safe. There was a significant failing in those responsibilities on this occasion.

“The pressure in this particular system can reach around 80 psi (pound-force per square inch), and the contractor continued work having been provided with a permit effectively confirming that the area where he was working had been isolated. Clearly his injuries demonstrate that this was not the case.

Compressed air can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly and so the need for a safe system of working with it, is particularly important.”

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