Windermere Auto Centre, Kankku Ltd, located on Victoria Street in Windermere has been ordered to pay fines by Kendal Magistrates’ Court following an incident on 27 July 2011 where a 26-year-old mechanic was burned severely when he tried to cut the top off an empty oil drum. The mechanic, who is a native of the town, was trying to remove the lid by using a propane torch. However, this set fire to the remaining oil inside the drum, which then caused an explosion. He had to spend five days in hospital after sustaining severe burns to his hands and arms.
The owner of Kankku Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident. It was discovered that about every three months garage employees would remove the tops of empty oil drums in order to use the drums as a place to store the scrap metal. The company failed to take into consideration the hazardous risks of these actions.
Kankku Ltd admitted guilt for their breach of Regulation 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. The company was ordered to pay fines of £6,000 and £4,746 in prosecution costs. The injured worker also received £500 in compensation from Kankku Ltd.
HSE Inspector Anthony Banks said that there were numerous other methods of cutting off the top of an oil drum that the company could have considered. He added that there were other, more sensible and safe ways of storing scrap metal.
He then said – “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.”