Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Construction Firm Fined after Worker Suffers Serious Burns
Posted by David Cant on March 16, 2011

There were many factors which were raised after a health and safety inspection took place at O’Keefe Constructions Depot in Sevenoaks.  The attention was brought to the firm after one of its young workers was seriously burned in an accident at the depot.  The 18 year old man was working in a shed spray painting a lighting tower.  During the process he used thinners and he managed to spill some on his clothing as he was working.  Shortly after he walked past a lit gas burner and his clothing set alight.

The man was seriously burnt on his legs, and his left arm and hand.  After the accident he spent six days in intensive care and a further ten days on a hospital ward.  Since the accident he has had to undergo painful skin graph procedures and has been unable to work for the last six months.

Fines Imposed As Firm Found Guilty

During the investigation into the accident the HSE discovered many failings by the construction firm. When interviewed the investigator Caroline Penwill spoke about the problems which were discovered at the scene.  The shed in which the teenager was working was not properly set up and needed some work in order to make it safe for the job of spraying paint.  She said that although the company were aware of the problems they had not done anything to create a safe working environment.

Inside the shed there was a lot of electrical equipment which created dangers as well as fluorescent lights which had no covers and an uncovered electrical mains box.  Paint was left open where it should have been stored correctly in a fire proof container.  The gas burner should not have been in the building and should not have been alight in such a volatile environment.  The fumes given off from paints and thinners are denser than air and therefore should be kept well away from sources of fire.

The Sevenoaks County Court fined the company a total of £26000 after O’Keefes Construction pleaded guilty.  The charges brought against the firm were failing to ensure safety at work, section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Risk Assessment was ignored

The firm had carried out a risk assessment and identified areas in the spray painting department which needed addressing.  None of the work needed to create a safe working environment were followed up on, even though an action plan dated three years after the original assessment had highlighted the problems a second time.

Further failings were identified when the company had failed to make sure all their employees were properly trained in risk assessment.  Again the firm had identified that this was a necessary measure but failed to go through and implementing the much needed course of action.

Fire Risk Assessment is a necessary precaution that businesses need to take in order to meet the Fire Safety Order 2005.  By carrying out the fire risk assessment you are able to look at the risks of fire in your work premises and come up with solutions which will satisfy the fire safety regulations.  To find out more call 0800 1488 677 today to ensure that you stay within the law and protect your employees from the dangers of fire.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety, Workplace Safety

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