Contractor fined after worker suffers life changing injuries in a van fire
Greenseal Insulation, a company specialising in spray foam
insulation services, has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,779
after an inexperienced worker suffered severe burns while attempting to refuel
petrol powered equipment.
Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 11 January, 2015,
workers were spraying insulation into a ceiling cavity of a retail outlet. The
foam spraying equipment was installed in a van parked outside the premises.
When foam ceased from the spray gun, one of the operatives entered the van to
refuel the equipment - a jerry can was fixed with straps within the compartment
containing a compressor and generator, both petrol operated.
The worker took the jerry can, opened it and petrol sprayed
all over him and the compartment. Ignition followed immediately, covering him
Following the event he was in a coma in hospital for three
months and subsequently spent more than a year in hospital.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the
incident found that Greenseal Insulation failed to ensure that risk from
dangerous substances, namely petrol, was either eliminated or reduced so far as
is reasonably practicable.
In order to minimise the risk, the company could have taken
a number of reasonably practicable actions, said the HSE including the use of
diesel powered spray foam equipment or reducing the frequency of refuelling by
installing a larger fuel tank or tanks. Refilling could then be reduced to once
a day and taken place at the beginning of the day when the equipment was cool
and not in operation.
The potential for spilling petrol could also have been
reduced by storing it away from sources of heat and confining it to smaller
containers or by using a non-spilling fuel delivery nozzle.
Birmingham-based Greenseal Insulation pleaded guilty to
breaching Regulation Six of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres
Regulations (DSEAR) 2002.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov
said: “This was the worker’s second day on the job. He suffered horrific
injuries due to the company’s failure to adequately consider the risks from
refuelling and implementing safer alternatives to the system of work requiring
refuelling petrol powered equipment every two hours.”