A man sustained severe burns while removing three disused oil tanks from a factory.
The man, aged 61, received the injuries while working for a steel fabrication company in February 2012. He was part of a team removing the tanks from the Fox’s Biscuits factory in Batley.
A fire started when the worker cut open one of the tanks with an angle grinder. Flammable vapours in the tank caught fire due to it only recently being emptied of fuel.
In a bid to extinguish the fire, the Hartwell Manufacturing employee placed a high-pressure water lance into a pipe opening. However, this resulted in a blow-back of flames to come through the opening, which surrounded his lower body.
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In this case, a fellow employee of the injured man came to his assistance using a fire extinguisher to put out the flames on his clothes. Extensive burns were sustained during the accident that required prolonged treatment.
An investigation into Hartwell Manufacturing by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that safety breaches had taken place. It emerged that the company had not adhered to a safe system of work earlier agreed with Fox’s Biscuits and their site managing firm.
It should have used cold-cutting equipment on the tanks but instead used a high-speed angle grinder, which produces heat and sparks. The firm said this was an oversight.
The HSE additionally found evidence of insufficient planning by Hartwell for the whole tank removal job. Its emergency arrangements to evacuate casualties on site were also fundamentally flawed, it found.
Huddersfield Magistrates Court heard that the firm’s managing director did not liaise with Fox’s Biscuits when problems accessing the tanks arose or when the company wanted to deviate from the agreed plan by using the angle grinder.
A fine of £10,000 was handed to Hartwell Manufacturing, of Milner Way, Ossett. It was also ordered to pay £7,885 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.
Source: The Examiner
Date Published: August 14, 2014
Author: David Brown