A bonfire prosecution of a Kent groundwork contractor has resulted in the company being fined. A petrol fire resulted in injuries to an employee when petrol was thrown on a bonfire.
On 24 June 2020, a 26-year-old groundworker employed by Kent County Surfacing Limited was working on a new residential development in Ramsgate, Kent when a co-worker used petrol on a bonfire. The groundworker was unaware of this and after he was instructed to light the bonfire, it engulfed him in flames as the petrol vapour ignited. The worker suffered serious burns and underwent two skin graft operations to his left hand, left arm, left side of torso and both his legs.
Groundworkers help prepare a construction site and ensure it is ready for the structural work to start.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to appropriately supervise their operatives and failed to provide them with the appropriate information and instruction, so far as is reasonably practicable to ensure work was carried out without risks to health or safety.
At Folkestone Magistrates on 10 October, Kent County Surfacing Ltd of 7 Mariners View, Deal, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 15 (8) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015. They were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,333.42.
“The operative’s injuries are life changing and could have easily been fatal.
“This serious incident and devastation should have been avoided if those in control of the work provided the appropriate supervision, information and instructions to their workers.”
Every year many construction site workers are killed or injured because of their work, and many others suffer serious ill health. The hazards are not, however, restricted to people working on sites. Children and other members of the public are also killed or injured because construction activities have not been adequately controlled. The construction industry’s performance has steadily improved, but the rates of death, serious injury and ill health are still among the highest of all industries. Fire safety is a key risk that construction operations need to manage and control.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its guidance on fire safety in construction HSG168. The third edition of the guidance was published this month and explains how everyone involved in construction projects can comply with their legal duties relating to fire risks. It is aimed at all those who procure, design, develop and manage construction sites, including clients and designers – it is relevant to all construction projects.
Each year there are estimated to be hundreds of fires on construction sites, potentially putting the lives of workers and members of the public at risk. Fire safety in construction is about eliminating fire risks during the design phase (where practicable), preventing fires from starting and ensuring people’s safety if they do.
This guidance does not reference the findings of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 because the fire did not occur while the building was being renovated or constructed.
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