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ELECTRICAL EXPLOSION FIREBALL ENGULFS ENGINEER

Major building materials Plc prosecuted after electrical engineer suffers burns

Lafarge Cement UK Plc of Syston, Leicester has been fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £29,742 in prosecution costs after failing to ensure electrical systems were maintained in such a way as to protect workers.

Electrical engineer, Paul Ridings, was set alight in an explosion in October 2008. He had been contracted to work for Lafarge Cement UK Plc, when he was engulfed by the fireball at the firm’s site at Thurrock Marine Terminal in Essex.

Mr Ridings was investigating an energy meter fault when he inadvertently disturbed a loose connection and exposed a strand of wire leading to an electrical explosion. His clothes ignited causing burns to his face, neck, chest, arms and hands.

Following emergency treatment he spent 19 days in a specialist burns unit and has undergone numerous skin grafts and operations to remove scar tissue.

Overall arrangements for maintenance inadequate

HSE investigators found that Lafarge Cement UK Plc failed to ensure electrical systems were maintained in such a way as to protect workers. The company admitted breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. 

HSE inspector, David King, said:

“Every year approximately 20 people die from electrical shocks or burns following incidents at work. Mr Ridings could easily have been killed in this incident.

It’s clear that in this case the overall arrangements for maintaining electrical assets were inadequate and the health and safety of both staff and contractors were put at risk.

HSE will proactively prosecute any company exposing workers to these unnecessary risks.”

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