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Sat September 25 2021

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Novice burned in van fire on day two in the job

24 Apr 18 An insulation company has been fined £40,000 after an employee was set on fire trying to refuel a spray gun.

Greenseal Insulation Ltd, which specialises in spray foam insulation services, was in court this week over an incident in which an inexperienced worker suffered severe burns while attempting to refuel petrol powered equipment.

It was the man’s second day on the job. Following the event he was in a coma in hospital for three months and subsequently spent more than a year in hospital.

Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 11th January 2015, workers were spraying insulation into a ceiling cavity of a retail outlet. The foam spraying equipment was installed in a van parked outside the premises. When foam ceased from the spray gun, one of the operatives went into the van to refuel the equipment. A jerry can was fixed with straps within the compartment containing a compressor and generator (both petrol operated). The worker took the jerry can, opened it and petrol sprayed all over him and the compartment. It ignited immediately, covering him in flames.

The Health & Safety Executive investigation found that Greenseal failed to ensure that risk from dangerous substances was either eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

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The company could have taken a number of reasonably practicable actions, the HSE said, including using diesel-powered spray foam equipment or reducing the frequency of refuelling by installing a larger fuel tank or tanks. Refilling could then be reduced to once a day and taken place at the beginning of the day when the equipment was cool and not in operation.

The potential for spilling petrol could have been reduced by storing it away from sources of heat and confining it to smaller containers or by using a non-spilling fuel delivery nozzle, the HSE added.

Greenseal Insulation Ltd of 45 Wycombe Road, Birmingham, B28 9EN pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 of the Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002. The company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,779.

HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said after the hearing: “This was the worker’s second day on the job. He suffered horrific injuries due to the company’s failure to adequately consider the risks from refuelling and implementing safer alternatives to the system of work requiring refuelling petrol powered equipment every two hours.”

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