June 2010 fire at the the Lindsey Oil Refinery. Image courtesy of the UK Health and Safety Executive.

Total UK Limited was fined about $2.17 million by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the 2010 death of an oil refinery worker.

According to the HSE, Robert Greenacre, 24, was working near a crude distillation unit at Total UK’s Lindsey Oil Refinery refinery in North Lincolnshire on June 29, 2010 when a crude release sparked a fire.

A colleague working with Greenacre managed to escape with minor burns.

The HSE said Greenacre, who was a contracted fitter, was working with a colleague beneath a distillation column containing hot crude oil.

The men were supposed to open equipment beneath the column, but when a piece of the equipment was opened crude was released and ignited.

The HSE prosecuted London-based Total UK after an investigating into the incident revealed an “uncontrolled release of crude oil.”

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999.

Total UK was fined £1.4 million, or about $2.17 million, and ordered to pay costs of £34,084, or about $52,866, on July 29.

“This tragic incident should serve as a reminder to all such operators that if they fail to assess the risks associated with even simple and routine maintenance tasks, the consequences can be severe, and irreparable to the people involved and their families,” HSE Inspector John Moran said after the hearing.


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