Contractor fined after ground worker ‘engulfed in flames’

A contractor has been fined after a ground worker suffered “life changing” burns when lighting a bonfire which had been doused in petrol.

Kent County Surfacing was ordered to pay a £10,000 penalty plus £7,333 in costs following the incident at a residential scheme in Ramsgate, Kent, in June 2020.

The firm, based at Mariners View in Deal, had employed the 26-year-old to help prepare the site for structural works.

A co-worker had put petrol on an area set up for a bonfire, but the victim was unaware and followed instructions to light it.

He was “engulfed in flames”, according to a statement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and suffered serious burns leading to two skin graft operations that covered his left hand and arm, part of his torso and both legs.

An HSE investigation found Kent County Surfacing had failed to appropriately supervise its operatives. The company had also failed to provide them with appropriate information and instruction so far as is reasonably practicable to ensure work was carried out without risks to health or safety, according to the watchdog.

Kent County Surfacing pleaded guilty at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on 10 October to breaching Regulation 15 (8) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations.

After the sentencing HSE inspector Ross Carter said: “The operative’s injuries are life changing and could have easily been fatal.

“This serious incident and devastation should have been avoided if those in control of the work provided the appropriate supervision, information and instructions to their workers.”

Kent County Surfacing has been contacted for comment.

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