Health & Safety News

News added on 17.07.2018

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Explosion

Employer failed to control risks of explosive substances

Two workers were killed and a third seriously injured in an explosion during a refurbishment job. What caused the explosion and could it have been avoided?

Two brothers were engaged by Clearview Design and Construction Ltd (CDC Ltd) as labourers on a refurbishment job at an industrial park. They were inside one of the units when an explosion and fire occurred. Both men suffered almost 100% burns and died within twelve hours of the accident. A third worker suffered severe burns and survived.

The police and HSE conducted a joint investigation, which found that the owner of CDC Ltd, Mr Thomerson (T), had provided the workers with several litres of highly flammable thinners to pour onto the floor of the unit to remove dried-on carpet tile adhesive. There were several possible ignition sources in the area. The investigation concluded that T had not given any serious consideration to the safe use of the thinners, despite clear warnings on the containers.

T pleaded guilty to breaching his duty under s.3 Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure the health and safety of non-employees. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

This employer ignored the clear fire and explosion risks of using flammable thinners. Using highly flammable liquids is always dangerous. If their use cannot be avoided, the environment and way in which they are employed must be strictly controlled to safeguard workers and others in the area.

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