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SKIP HIRE FIRM WORKMAN DIED IN TYRE EXPLOSION

Training and supervision necessary for high risk maintenance work not provided

CB Skips (C Bialek Ltd trading as) has been ordered to pay £205,000 in fines and prosecution costs after a workman died when the tyre he was fixing exploded on 12 February 2008.

Salisbury Crown Court heard how Jozef Trhan, from Slovakia, was fixing a split rim wheel on loading shovel when the incident happened. He lacked training and experience in such tyre repair work.

The interlocking components of split-rim wheels must be precisely secured into place before the inner-tube is inflated otherwise they can separate allowing the inner-tube to burst causing a violent blast of compressed air to escape.

Lack of regular vehicle maintenance and the absence of training or supervision led to a dangerous practice of welding the wheel components into place which prevented the components of the wheel locking together properly.

Mr Trhan followed the established routine and welded the sections of the wheel together before inflating the tyre. He knelt in front of the tyre, the welds suddenly failed causing the inner-tube to rupture.

The blast of compressed air propelled the metal components outwards striking him in the head and body. His body was thrust towards a nearby excavator which he struck head-first. He did not recover from his injuries and was pronounced dead in hospital.

Defendant unaware what was going on in premises

HSE investigators found that dangerous and unsafe machinery was used and the company failed to think through the potential hazards through risk assessment. The workers involved were not trained for tyre repair and maintenance and supervision was inadequate.

C B Skip Hire, based at St Thomas Farm, London Road, Salisbury, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 and was fined £150,000 plus £55,000 in costs. 

Liam Osborne, the HSE Inspector who investigated the case said:

“C B Skips failed to protect Mr Trhan in a number of ways; essentially, they didn’t know what was going on in their own yard.

Workplaces using split-rim wheels need to appreciate that if these wheels are not in perfect condition and people are not fully trained in their repair, their workers could be working near a bomb waiting to go off at any moment.

It was pure chance that nobody else was near the wheel when it exploded as this incident could have easily led to more deaths and injuries.”

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