As EHS regulatory activity continues to grow, enforcement continues around the world. Below are just a few examples of recent EHS enforcement actions.
On 20 June 2011, an oil company branch in the United Kingdom was ordered by Ipswich Crown Court to pay a total of £1.24million in fines and costs over the explosion and fire at one of its gas terminals on 28 February 2008. The explosion blew the concrete roof off a buffering tank within the plant, hurling concrete and metal debris over a large area and sucking a nearby drain out of the ground. The HSE and Environment Agency (EA) jointly prosecuted the company over safety, environmental control and pollution-prevention failures at the plant leading to the explosion. The HSE said it was only good fortune that prevented any one being killed.
On 25 May 2011, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a large electronic company 19 violations in excess of $1.2 million for its failure to adequately train and equip employees removing asbestos-containing materials during an in-house renovation. According to OSHA, the company failed to adequately inform, train, and equip its workers for exposure to asbestos.
In Australia on 14 April 2011, The NSW Industrial Court issued $360,000 in fines after the prosecution of three organisations and one manager after a worker was killed while doing upgrades on Epping Road back in 2008. The worker had been run over by a prime mover with an attached dog trailer. While working on the road, one organization changed the worker’s duties without seeking approval of his company that was contracted for part of the job. As the worker was removing debris from a portion of the road, the truck driver of the prime mover didn’t see him and hit him with the prime mover’s trailer. The justice ruled that the organization had neglected its own basic site safety procedures and that this had contributed to the worker’s death, and found the organisations and managers guilty of a number of breaches of the OSHA Act 2000 (NSW).
On 20 May 2011, a large technology plant in Chengdu, China, experienced a deadly explosion, killing 3 people and injuring 15. The reason for the blast still remains unknown, but it is speculated that it could have been from combustible dust in a polishing workshop. It has been known that the plant has been having recent trouble with production of a highly demanded electronic, which has put stress on the plant. Medical officials are now working with law enforcement officials to address the next step of the tragedy.
Contributors: Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford, Jonathan Nwagbaraocha, Sarah O’Brien, Gaye van der Eerden.