Oil Drum Accident Company fined
Published Wednesday 28th November 2012
An Ipswich motor repair company has been fined £40,000 by magistrates after a workshop assistant suffered serious injuries while trying to remove the end of a disused oil drum.
Findlay Gavin was badly hurt in the accident in November 2011 at CVS (Anglia) Ltd of Holywells Road. The oil drum exploded almost instantaneously when the oxyacetylene torch was applied to it and the bottom end of the drum blew off completely. The rest of the drum shot up high in the air. Mr Gavin was knocked flat and sustained head injuries. He was taken to hospital by air ambulance where he remained unconscious for five days.
Ipswich Borough Council prosecuted the company for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The case was heard yesterday afternoon in Ipswich. Magistrates were shown CCTV footage of the incident, slowed down to a speed at which the blow up was discernible. The company told the magistrates that Mr Gavin was trying to make an incinerator for his superior to use on an allotment, but it admitted several shortcomings in its safety provision. As well as the £20,000 fine for each of the two offences (the maximum the magistrates could impose), the company has been ordered to pay nearly £17,000 in costs.
The ends of disused oil drums are sometimes removed to make a portable incinerator or to create a waste bin. There have been several examples of this task resulting in tragic fatal accidents in last couple of years alone.
Councillor Neil Macdonald, Deputy Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said today: "We are pleased with the outcome of this case and that the magistrates recognised the seriousness of the offences involved. The injuries to Mr Gavin were serious but given the circumstances there could well have been a fatality - we are relieved that Mr Gavin has made a good recovery, that no one else was injured by the explosion and that it did not result in the premises catching fire. The Environmental Health team at the Council spends considerable time working with businesses to help them comply with their duties under Health and Safety legislation. In rare cases such as this it is appropriate and proportionate to undertake a prosecution. We hope this sends a strong message to those businesses not complying with their duties to protect their staff and also that this raises awareness of how dangerous workplaces can be if not properly managed."