A company has been fined £66,000 after a work accident left an employee with horrific injuries in an explosion.
Karol Robaczewski, 38, was cleaning the inside of a 20,000-litre fuel tank on September 9, 2011.
Father-of-three Mr Robaczewski was engulfed by a fireball that caused serious burns and left him almost totally paralysed.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Fuel Proof Ltd, of Heysham, Lancashire, which makes airport fuel tanks, after its investigation found serious safety failings.
The Morecambe man had climbed through a manhole cover on top of the six-metre-long (19ft 8in) tank, Preston Crown Court was told.
Mr Robaczewski was cleaning the inside by applying a highly flammable solvent to a cloth and wiping down the walls. Mr Robaczewski thought the lamp inside the tank was becoming too hot, so he pulled the plug from its socket.
‘Unsuitable’ work equipment
As he did so, a spark caused the fumes to ignite and he was surrounded by flames so hot that it melted his “unsuitable” mask visor and protective suit. Mr Robaczewski suffered burns to most of his body and was in hospital for three months.
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The HSE investigation into the work accident discovered the way of cleaning the fuel tanks with highly flammable solvent had been used for four years, but Fuel Proof had not undertaken any risk assessments.
Staff took it in turns to clean each tank because the accumulation of fumes from the solvent made them feel nauseous, the court heard.
The firm was also ordered to pay £25,000 costs after pleading guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 on 28 October 2013.
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