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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Windermere garage fined after mechanic burned

A WINDERMERE garage has been fined after a mechanic was badly burned while trying to cut the top off an empty oil drum.

The 26-year-old local man was using a propane torch to remove the lid when the remaining oil inside the drum set alight, causing an explosion. He suffered burns to his hands and arms, and was kept in hospital for five days.

The owner of Windermere Auto Centre, Kankku Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the incident at the Victoria Street garage on July 27, 2011.

Kendal Magistrates’ Court heard employees at the garage cut the tops off empty oil drums once every three months so they could be used to store scrap metal.

However, the company failed to consider the risk of the propane torch creating and igniting a vapour from the small amount of oil remaining in the drums.

Kankku Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to minimise the risks to which employees were exposed.

The company, of Victoria Street in Windermere, was fined £6,000 and was ordered to pay £4,746 costs and £500 in compensation to the injured worker, who was not named.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: “There were several ways the top could have been cut off the oil drum safely, but the company should have considered whether it needed to do this in the first place. It would have been much more sensible to use another container to store scrap metal at the garage, rather than using a drum which still had small amounts of a flammable substance inside.

“Sadly, these types of incidents are all too common, and it’s only luck that the mechanic wasn’t more seriously injured or even killed in the explosion.”

Information on flammable substances is at hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion.

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