Road Worker Burns Lead To Company Prosecution

Exploding Bristol Vehicle Leads To Worker Injuries

10.10.2014

A road marking company has been fined over an incident that saw a worker burned when a vehicle caught fire during a project in Bristol.

Redland Road Marking was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the case involving Neil Higgins from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, who was working on a project laying road markings in the Hartcliffe area of the city in June 2013 when the vehicle carrying out the task caught fire and exploded.

Mr Higgins suffered burn injuries as a result and the HSE investigation found that the gas-heated cauldrons on the vehicle were defective.

The HSE discovered two problems with them; the pipework was not properly connected - having not been fitted by a competent person - while there were also no flame failure devices to prevent a problem escalating into a catastrophe.

As a result, the HSE prosecuted Redland Road Marking and the company pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates Court to a charge of breaching work equipment regulations. It was fined £2,000, as well as being ordered to pay £1,123 in costs.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Helena Tinton said: "This is not the first time there has been a fire of this nature on a road marking vehicle and the operators need to ensure that the equipment has been installed by a competent person and regularly maintained. It is a matter of good fortune that nobody died as a result of this incident."

HSE guidance on the use of work vehicles notes that these are classed as equipment, meaning they are captured by legislation requiring that employers ensure this is safe.

This includes regular maintenance and the guidance stipulates that particular attention should be paid to elements like "pipes, pneumatic or hydraulic hoses", as well as moving parts on any vehicle.

It also notes that safety systems require regular maintenance and that this task should only be carried out by persons with the correct levels of skill and instruction.

If you have suffered a burn, laceration or scarring due to a workplace accident, our accident at work lawyers could help you to secure compensation. See our Burns, Scars & Lacerations At Work Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The health and safety of workers should always be a top priority for employers. In this case a man suffered severe burns in an explosion caused be defective machinery. It is vital that companies ensure the correct level of maintenance is carried out on any equipment utilised by workers, particularly dangerous gas-heated machinery. The fact that this was not the first time such an incident has taken place is even more concerning.

“It is vital employers ensure they comply with health and safety guidance set out by the HSE and that regular maintenance of equipment takes place to protect the individuals who work with the machinery on a daily basis.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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