March 2014

Briquette Manufacturers Fined for Employees’ Burns

A company that manufactures coal briquettes has been fines at the Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court after two of its employees were seriously burned when a fine broke out at the manufacturing plant.

The fire broke out on the 16th December 2012 in a building that held a rotary drier at Maxibrite’s manufacturing plant in Llantrisant. When he was alerted of the fire, Simon Gilbody – a manager at the plant – attempted to use a hose to dampen the flames in the tower.

However, these attempts were in vain and Mr Gilbody, with the help of another worker, Carl Lewis, tried to open an inspection hatch at the base of the tower to release any blockages. Yet when Mr Lewis opened the hatch, hot coals and cinders fell from the opening, causing Mr Gilbody to sustain burns to his upper body and face.

When Mr Lewis attempted to close the inspection hatch’s door, he also sustained serious burns. Medical attention was called to the scene, and though Mr Gilbody was allowed home after receiving treatment from the attending paramedics, Mr Lewis was admitted to hospital and had to undergo a skin graft in an attempt to help the damage to his skin.

The Health and Safety Executives (HSE) launched an investigation into the incident, and it was uncovered that Maxibrite failed to conduct adequate risk assessments concerning possible fires in the tower. Additionally, it failed to train staff in fire safety procedure in the event of a fire.

The company was prosecuted for breaches of the Management of health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were also told to implement staff training in fire-fighting equipment and fire safety.

The case was heard at the Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court, where Maxibrite representatives plead guilty to the charges. The court fined the company £20,000 for negligence and also ordered them to pay prosecution costs of £5,115.

HSE Inspector Steve Lewis stated, after the fine was announced, that the employees that were injured in the incident were lucky not to have sustained more serious injuries, and noted that every employer should ensure that they have adequately instructed their staff in fire safety protocol.