Steel company fined £1.8m for explosion that killed two

Celsa Steel has been fined £1.8 million after an explosion at its Cardiff plant killed two workers in November 2015. The company pleaded guilty to failing to make suitable and sufficient assessment of risks under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Celsa Steel Works, Cardiff – Image: Jeremy Segrott / Flickr

The explosion was the result of a safety mechanism failing to shut down an oil heater and preventing it from getting too hot and exploding. Peter O’Brien, 51, from Llanishen, Cardiff and Mark Sim, 41, of Caldicot, Monmouthshire, were most likely unaware that oil levels in the tank had fallen below the minimum safety level because the oil heater remained on when it would have turned off but for an electrical failure.

Workers who heard the explosion at the plant in Splott, Cardiff were unable to help the pair as smoke and flames prevented access to the cellar where the blast occurred. The explosion also injured five other workers, one seriously.

In court, Judge Neil Bidder said that Celsa had failed to ensure that the machinery was safe and that the risk of explosion could and should have been recognised. He added: “If the job being done by Mr O’Brien and Mr Sim had been properly risk assessed, I am sure that this accident would not have occurred and that they would not have been killed and Mr Wood seriously injured.”

According to the BBC, the factory’s health and safety manager said that some employees had “little or no training” on risk assessments, and Celsa had not put in place steps to make sure workers carried them out.

A spokesperson for Celsa said: “We have left no stone unturned to ensure that nothing like this could ever happen again. All of us work incredibly hard every day to prioritise the safety of every single colleague.”

Spanish-owned Celsa has been ordered to pay the £1.8 million fine within six months, as well as £145,771.85 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.


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