Health and Safety Executive
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Worker suffers life threatening injuries after drum explodes

A Kent company who supplies road safety products has been fined after a worker suffered life threatening injuries when a drum he was working on exploded.

Maidstone Crown Court heard how 41 year old Andrew Foster, an employee of Highway Care Limited was using a plasma cutter to cut up a drum that had previously contained a flammable substance. Mr Foster suffered life threatening injuries when the drum exploded in his face causing complex head and brain injuries. He has permanently lost vision in his right eye and now has very limited vision in his left eye.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 6 August 2012 found that the company failed to ensure the health and safety of their employees.

Highway Care Limited, of Detling Hill, Maidstone, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £660,000 and ordered to pay costs of £33,358.46.

HSE Inspector Caroline Fullman said.

“Andrew Foster has been left with devastating injuries that will impact on the rest of his and his family’s lives. This incident could have resulted in a fatality.

“If a welding torch or plasma cutter is used on a tank or drum that has contained or contains a flammable substance, it can explode. It only takes a small amount of residue to create a potentially flammable atmosphere.

“Mr Foster wants others to learn of the risk of hot work on drums and tanks – he was previously unaware of the risk.”

For further information in hot work on small tanks and drums visit:http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg314.pdf PDF

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:www.legislation.gov.uk/ link to external website
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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