A road supplies company has been fined after a worker suffered life threatening injuries when a drum he was working on exploded.
Maidstone Crown Court heard how the man had been carrying out work for his employer, Highway Care Limited, when the accident occurred in August 2012. The employee was using a plasma cutter to cut up a drum that had previously contained a flammable substance, when the drum exploded in his face.
The worker suffered complex head and brain injuries. He has permanently lost vision in his right eye and has very limited vision in his left eye as a result of the incident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
HSE inspector, Caroline Fullman, said: “[The worker] has been left with devastating injuries that will impact on the rest of his and his family’s lives. This incident could have resulted in a fatality.
“If a welding torch or plasma cutter is used on a tank or drum that has contained or contains a flammable substance, it can explode. It only takes a small amount of residue to create a potentially flammable atmosphere.”
Highway Care Limited, Maidstone, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was ordered to pay a fine of £660,000 with costs of £33,358.46.