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Vehicle Parts Firm In Chorley Fined After Mechanic Suffers Severe Burns

Multiple Health And Safety Failings Discovered


A vehicle salvage firm from Lancashire has been fined £40,000 after an inspection pit burst into flames, leaving a mechanic suffering from severe burns.

CCTV footage of the incident shows Lee Roberts working in the pit at Douglas Valley Breakers, draining fuel from a van. Seconds later a fire breaks out.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service discovered multiple health and safety failings.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Myrtle said: “Lee suffered severe burns as a result of this incident but he was very lucky not to have been killed.

“Douglas Valley Breakers was guilty of several serious safety breaches. It failed to properly consider the risks its employees faced while removing fuel from vehicles, or to do anything about them. It was therefore almost inevitable that a worker would be badly burned in a fire.

“The company had the right equipment to do the job properly, but instead it allowed workers to stand in a pit surrounded by fuel vapours where just one spark from electric equipment could start a fire.

“If the fuel had been removed in a well-ventilated area, or even outside, without any ignition sources nearby then the severe burns Lee suffered could have been avoided. Sadly, our investigation found the company’s overall attitude to health and safety was poor to say the least.”

At Preston Crown Court, the vehicle salvage firm based in Chorley were also ordered to pay £25,000 in costs following the incident in 2010.