A worker at the British Sugar plant in Alscott, Shropshire, was killed after a pipe inside a boiler ruptured causing an explosion, an inquest has heard.
Evidence was given to the inquest sitting in Telford that the tube had been subject to erosion by a soot-blower inside the boiler.
During the five-day hearing, Archibald Carrick, an engineer surveyor employed by Royal & SunAlliance, who had inspected the boiler in 2002, strenuously denied that he had missed signs of erosion.
Mr Carrick admitted he had not been able to fully check all the pipes in the boiler because some of them were too far back to reach.
However he told the inquest that his conclusion – that there was no serious erosion in the pipe work – was supported by hydrolic pressure tests on the pipes by British Sugar.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death on employee Robert Howe, 52, in March 2003, as part of a narrative verdict. The jury named four factors which, in their view, exacerbated the death of Mr Howe:
Unrecognised and unreported effects of erosion to the boiler tubes.
The design of the boiler and the “inevitable erosion” of one of its tubes.
The lack of formal training and supervision regarding the installation of the soot-blower lance.
The failure to shut down the boiler on a precautionary basis to allow for an in-depth investigation into unexplained water loss.
Speaking at the conclusion of the case Martin Oversall, a senior HSE inspector, said the possibility of further proceedings was being considered.
In a statement, British Sugar’s operations director Karl Carter, added: “Following this tragic accident, an extensive review of boiler house procedures at all of our sites has resulted in a number of changes to prevent a recurrence.”
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