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Have you completed your LPG survey yet?

Author : Paul Gay

20 October 2009

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wants to find out industry’s opinion of its proposals for a new safety regime for the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in factories, process plants and commercial premises. The proposals were outlined in the consultation document published in July on the recommendations from the Public Inquiry held by Lord Gill into the explosion at ICL Plastics in 2004.

Stockline Plastics, Glasgow on 11 May 2004
Stockline Plastics, Glasgow on 11 May 2004

There are several ways you can respond to the LPG consultation. There is a questionnaire, which can be completed online or printed out and then mailed back by post or e-mail and interested parties are also invited to write the HSE with any comments. Your response need not be restricted to the specific questions highlighted in the consultation document and reproduced in the questionnaire. HSE is keen to point out that if there are issues not covered in the questionnaire which need to be raised you are free to do so. All responses will be acknowledged and a summary of the main issues raised will be produced once the consultation period has been completed.

The consultation document was the first part of the HSE response to the Gill Inquiry report and will enable interested parties and stakeholders to provide their initial views on the principles within the recommendations. Responses to this particular excercise will be lodged with HSE’s Knowledge Centre after the close of the consultation period where they can be inspected by members of the public. Responses are invited on the basis that anyone submitting them agrees to their response being dealt with in this way.

The Gill Inquiry into the disaster at a plastics factory operated by ICL Plastics Ltd and ICL Tech Ltd at Grovepark Mills in Maryhill, Glasgow on 11 May 2004, was clear in its findings as to the cause of the incident. There was an explosion and subsequent collapse of the building and as a result nine people died and 33 were injured.

The report states was this an avoidable disaster and there can be no debate over its cause. The underground ageing metallic LPG pipe was ‘out of sight and out of mind’, it was inadequately protected when buried and was subject to corrosion. Ultimately it failed.

The management of the ICL companies were found to be lacking in knowledge and understanding that LPG is heavier than air and when escaping will track to accumulate at the lowest point in drains, ducts and voids, presenting the danger of an explosion. When the yard at Grovepark Mills was raised in 1973 and later, when a chequer plate floor was laid over an open pit area, the LPG safety implications were overlooked. No consideration was given to the presence of LPG on the premises and the existence of the void within the building. The risks posed were neither identified nor understood and the opportunities to consider the continuing integrity of the buried pipe were missed.

The Inquiry has identified serious weaknesses in the existing health and safety regime arising from the complexity of the legislation and a lack of effective communication between HSE, UKLPG, suppliers and users on safety issues.

Interested parties can complete the survey by following the link below. The deadline for responses is November 19th.

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