HSE investigations bring focus to risk assessments and method statements

Monday, January 23, 2017

A number of incidents and Health & Safety Executive investigations have recently brought into sharp focus the potential for serious injury and fatal accidents within the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sector.

Sometimes our field technicians can become a bit blasé about the potential dangers when they are carrying out routine works that go without incident day after day, year after year. Yet the dangers are always there and the risk assessments and method statements (RAMS) should always not only take into account the potential hazards, but should also be understood and respected by all personnel working on or around the plant.

An incident at the Carlsberg Brewery at Northampton where an ammonia leak led to the death of a Carlsberg employee and the treatment in hospital of 22 people, including 2 police officers and 9 firefighters, has highlighted the need for end users to be just as aware of potential hazards as our own REFCOM registered member companies are. Ammonia has a strong odour and leaks are usually fairly obvious so the fact that this leak caused so many casualties demonstrates the potency of the gas when leaked.

The other two recent incidents were brought to light by HSE prosecutions in late 2016 following incidents in 2015. Both involved falling from heights.

These incidents highlight the need for all companies in the RACHP sector to carry out adequate RAMS for even the most routine maintenance works, ensuring that their employees and clients are all fully aware of their responsibilities and the potential hazards around the work area.

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