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    IGNITION OF THINNERS VAPOUR CLAIMED TWO LIVES

    Refurbishment project director jailed over fatal use of flammable solvent

    A construction company director has been sentenced to 8 months in custody after pleading guilty to a health and safety breach which resulted in the death of two brothers in October 2015.

    Luton Crown Court heard that Clearview Design and Construction Ltd was contracted by the owners of an industrial park in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire to refurbish several of the units.

    The company employed two brother, Ardian and Jashar Lamallari, as labourers who were working inside the unit when an explosive fire occurred within one of the units.

    The two men suffered near 100 per cent burns and died within 12 hours of the incident. A third man who was working with them survived although he suffered severe burns.

    A joint investigation by Hertfordshire Constabulary and HSE found that company director Simon Thomerson supplied the three men with several litres of highly flammable liquid (“thinners”) which was poured onto the floor of the unit to remove carpet tile adhesive.

    The solvent vapour spread over an area up to half the size of a tennis court and was ignited by one of several possible ignition sources that were in the area.

    No serious consideration of safety

    The investigation found that Mr Thomerson gave no serious consideration to the safe use of the thinners, despite the obvious warnings on the containers.

    • Simon Thomerson – of Sutherland Avenue, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He received a custodial sentence of 8 months and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170.

    Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit who led the investigation said:

    “This was a tragic event that led to the death of two men in absolutely horrific circumstances. We have worked closely with HSE and our other partner agencies to ensure that the failings by those in control of the site were identified and prosecuted and are satisfied that the sentence delivered today reflects the seriousness of those failings.”

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Hoskins said:

    “The risks of using highly flammable liquids are well-known, and employers should make sure they properly assess the risks from such substances, and use safer alternatives where possible. Where the use of flammable solvents is unavoidable, then the method and environment must be strictly controlled to prevent any ignition.”

     

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