Construction Enquirer News Vapours ignite leaving construction worker with burns to 26% of his body

A construction company managing director has received a suspended sentence after an employee suffered severe burns on a site in Swynecombe, Oxfordshire.

Milton Keynes Magistrates Court heard how managing director of MWJ Construction Ltd, Marcin Wojtas failed to take reasonably practicable precautions for the decommissioning of a petrol tank, which resulted in an explosion.

An HSE investigation into the incident that occurred on 9 July 2018, found that the injured person and another operative were instructed by Wojtas to use an angle grinder to remove the tank lid to speed up the decommissioning work.

While performing this task, the petrol vapours within the tank were ignited and an explosion occurred. The injured person sustained burns to 26% of their body.

The investigation also found Wojtas had been informed by an officer from the Petroleum Enforcing Authority that the work to decommission the fuel tank was a specialised operation and needed to be completed by a competent contractor.

Neither operative had any of the training, experience or knowledge required to make them competent.

Marcin Wojtas of London pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was given a six month suspended sentence and ordered to pay total costs of £8,455.48.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Tonge said: “The accident could have been prevented if the work was appropriately planned through an adequate risk assessment.

“Had this been the case, competent operatives would have conducted the work, the tank would have had its hazardous contents (petrol vapour and petrol) removed safely and equipment appropriate to use around an explosive atmosphere would have been used.”

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