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WORKMAN BURNT CLEANING WITH FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

Flammable substance and unprotected electrical equipment trigger flash fire

HMG Paints Limited has been fined £80,000 after a worker suffered burns whilst cleaning the floor of a spray booth in November 2014.

Manchester Crown Court heard how the employee was using a highly flammable solvent to clean the floor of a spray booth. This was a task he had undertaken several times since the spray booth was installed.

HSE report that after complaints about how difficult it was to remove the dried paint the workman was “allowed to purchase” an industrial floor scrubber to carry out the task.

It was the electric motor on the floor scrubber which ignited the cloud of flammable vapour in the spray booth. The incident caused 26% burns to the workman who required treatment at a specialist hospital burns unit.

HSE investigators  found that the planning for cleaning floors using solvent failed to recognise the hazards and level of risk associated with the use of highly flammable solvents to clean floors.

The employee had not been trained to clean floors and was not adequately supervised when carrying out the cleaning activity.

Custom and practice to clean with highly flammable solvents

HMG Paints Limited, of Collyhurst Road, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,669.40.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector David Myrtle said:

“This is a company that handles large quantities of flammable solvent, the hazards are well known and the company has a duty to control the risks arising from the hazards.

It was custom and practice to clean floors using highly flammable solvents applied using a mop and bucket. In this instance the company failed to adequately control the risks and an employee was seriously injured.”

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