Injury Compensation News

Fine Issued to Company After Employees Burned in Work Accident

March 31, 2014

A company that was found guilty of health and safety failings after two of its employees sustained serious burns in a work accident has been fined £20,000.

The fire occurred on the 16th December, 2012 at the Maxibrite’s coal briquette manufacturing plant in Llantrisant.The fire started after a rotary drier in a tower on the site caught flame. Simon Gilbody, a works manager for Maxibrite, attempted to dampen the flames by hosing the tower with water after his attention was brought to the fire.

However, these attempts failed and Mr Gilbody, with the assistance of Carl Lewis – another Maxibrite employee working on the site – tried to free some obstructions in the tower by opening an inspection hatch at the base of the tower. Yet upon opening the hatch, a torrent of burning coal and cinder fell from the inspection hatch and seared Mr Gilbody’s face, neck and chest.

Mr Lewis then tried to close the hatch door to prevent more coal emerging, but he too had sustained burned and his injuries prevented him from closing the hatch door. Following this workplace accident, a skin graft was carried out on Mr Lewis as a result of the grave burns inflicted upon him. Mr Gilbody was able to go home after being treated by paramedics attending the accident at the Llantrisant site.

An investigation surrounding the circumstances of the accident ensued, carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It was uncovered that the company, Maxibrite, failed to carry out any risk assessment concerning the likelihood of the rotary drier starting a fire. Additionally, no effort was made to educate the staff of the proper safety procedures should such an event occur.

Having breached the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, Maxibrite were prosecuted and told that they must improve staff training such that in includes comprehensive instructions for guiding employees in the safe use of fire-fighting equipment.

The case was heard at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court, where representatives of Maxibrite plead guilty to both charges brought against them. The were issued a fine totalling £20,000 for their negligence, resulting in the workplace accident that caused two of their employees to be burned. The company were also ordered to pay £5,115 in costs.

HSE Inspector Steve Lewis stated that the two employees involved were fortunate in that they were not injured more seriously, yet added that every employer had a responsibility to educate their employees of fire safety procedures should a fire break out in the workplace.

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