21-year-old employee killed after firm’s failings

A West Sussex-based company, Flowserve (GB) Ltd, was fined £150,000 today (4 June 2010) at Lewes Crown Court following the death of a 21-year-old employee.

The prosecution follows an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an incident on 7 May 2008 at Flowserve (GB) Ltd’s site in Burrell Road in Haywards Heath.

Philip Locke, a 21-year-old employee at Flowserve, received fatal injuries when carrying out a pressure test on a high pressure valve. It is believed that during the test, the vent valve became detached from the machine and hit Mr Locke at high speed, causing fatal chest injuries.

The HSE investigation also found that the company had not carried out an adequate risk assessment and had failed to recognise the risk of parts, such as the vent valve, detaching during the pressure testing. The vent value had not been installed correctly and there should have been a guard on the back of the machine which would have prevented the vent value injuring Mr Locke when it separated from the machine at high pressure.

At Lewes Crown Court today, Flowserve (GB) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The court fined the company £150,000 and ordered them to pay full costs of £66,838.

HSE Inspector Russell Beckett said:

“This case highlights some key lessons for Flowserve and companies like it. As this case tragically shows, this type of work needs to be properly managed when machines are being used, as well as when they are just being tested, in order to reduce risks.”

“Had Flowserve (GB) Ltd carried out a specific risk assessment on the machine it would have realised the process was unsafe. The company could easily have modified the system of work and the death of Mr Locke could have been prevented.”