INEOS Fined After Employee Seriously Injured

INEOS has incurred a fine of £400,000 following an incident in which a worker suffered serious injuries while performing a routine task at its chemical site in Grangemouth, Scotland.

The 47-year-old employee was engaged in clearing a sump containing a caustic solution on November 25, 2019, when the incident occurred. Inadequate grating caused the worker to fall into the sump, resulting in severe burn injuries.

The sump required emptying as its contents had reached the high-level design threshold on November 24, prompting the worker to lay out hoses in preparation for the task. Upon entering the sump area, he stepped onto the grating, which gave way, causing his right leg to fall into the caustic solution. After being submerged for three seconds, the worker managed to pull himself out and subsequently received treatment at the burns unit of St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

The worker sustained permanent scarring to his right leg and experienced four weeks of pain following the incident, returning to work in December.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that INEOS had neglected to conduct a risk assessment for the task, and no safe work system was in place. The unsecured grating and the absence of barriers to prevent a fall into the sump were identified as key contributing factors.

HSE guidance emphasizes the importance of employers or appointed competent individuals identifying hazards, conducting risk assessments before work commences, recording findings, and reviewing implemented control measures to ensure their effectiveness.

INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth Limited pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 2(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company received a £400,000 fine at Falkirk Sheriff Court on March 8, 2024.

HSE inspector Lindsey Stein commented on the incident, stating, “The duties on employers to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks and to provide a safe system of work are absolute within health and safety legislation and well understood.” She further emphasized that straightforward control measures, identified through assessment, could have easily prevented the incident.

Debbie Carroll, leading health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), highlighted that the accident could have been avoided through the recognition of risks and the implementation of appropriate work systems. INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth Limited’s failure to assess risks resulted in severe injury and permanent disfigurement, underscoring the serious consequences of failing to manage and implement effective safety measures. Carroll stressed that duty holders would be held accountable for such failures.