Inadequate risk assessment leads to injury

An oil distribution firm has been convicted of risk assessment failings after an employee broke his arm when he fell from the top of a tanker as he tried to check oil levels.

Carrs Billington Agriculture (Sales), which trades as Wallace Oils, admitted a breach ofRegulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations after the November 2012 incident.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court was told that David Strong had returned to the firm’s depot after his morning delivery run and climbed on top of the tanker, which had no guard rail, to use a dipstick to check the remaining fuel level. As he did so, he lost his balance and fell more than three metres to the concrete floor.

The HSE found that though there was equipment to allow drivers to drain remaining fuel from the tanker before refilling, it had become common practice for drivers to climb onto vehicles to check the remaining fuel levels. There was no gauge on the side of the tank and it was easier for workers to climb up than to empty the tanker.

Carrs Billington had not properly assessed the risk that employees would check the fuel in this way, and so it had not provided instructions on how to do it safely. Another driver had trained Strong to use dipsticks and no one had told him not to use this method.

On Wednesday (28 May), magistrates fined Carrs Billington Agriculture £9330 and ordered it to pay £360 in costs.

“There were several other ways this work could have been carried out safely — the simplest being emptying the tank first so workers always started with an empty tank,” said HSE inspector Matthew Tinsley.

Carrs Billington now makes sure any remaining fuel is emptied when rankers return to the depot before the refilling process starts.