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Worker Died After Factory Blast

Polish Worker Death


An inquest jury is considering evidence in the case of a Polish worker who died after suffering burns to 80% of his body in a blaze at a metals factory.

Patrycjusz Handzel, 24, died in hospital three days after the furnace explosion at Transition International Ltd in Sheffield. He had suffered multiple organ failure due to extensive burns, the Sheffield Star newspaper reported.

Mr Handzel, who was an agency worker with Nottingham-based DKM Labour Solutions, was working a night shift at the factory on March 14, 2007 when the blast occurred. His colleague, Anthony Brough, was with him at the time.

Mr Brough told the inquest in Sheffield that he rushed into the foundry after hearing a "huge explosion" and found Mr Handzel in a "ball of flames" near the furnace.

The explosion could have been caused by water mixing with the hot metal which Mr Handzel had been loading into the furnace, the inquest heard. Mr Handzel was not wearing any safety clothing, although it had been provided.

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: Sadly, this explosion resulted in a fatal industrial accident.

"Whilst the inquest is ongoing, the circumstances are yet to be determined.

"Generally however, employers have a duty to provide a safe place and a safe system of work so as to prevent accidents at work.

"When migrant workers are employed employers need to ensure that they are not only trained properly but that such training is understood.

"I have seen a significant increase in claims for compensation arising from migrant workers who have suffered injuries in industrial accidents."

Mr Urpeth represented over 75 workers and many residents who were injured in the 2001 blast at the Killingholme refinery when over 170 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas caught fire. Conoco-Phillips, who owned the plant, was eventually fined £1m for breaching health and safety regulations after the explosion at its Humber refinery.