Category Archives: Garage Accidents

Garage Fined after Worker Suffers Burns

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.”

Tour Bus operator Prosecuted after Mechanical Engineer Sustains Injuries

The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited, a tour bus operator, has been ordered to pay fines by Westminster Magistrates’ Court after an incident where a 58 year old mechanical engineer sustained severe injuries when he was working underneath one of their buses on 21 October 2009. The man, who does not wish to be named, was working on reseating an airbag on one of the firm’s open topped buses at a bus depot in Essex. The bus was being held upon its axles by wooden blocks and column vehicle lifts while it was raised two feet off the ground.

The employee was being assisted by a co-worker who was helping him to raise and lower the bus. Unfortunately, the axle dropped onto the mechanic which subsequently broke his pelvis and several ribs when one of the wooden blocks collapsed. The man was left in hospital for two weeks, was rendered unable to work for six months and still suffers great pain to this day as a result.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for not preventing the incident. The HSE conducted investigation discovered that risk assessments for the bus depot site were not adequately reviewed, and site engineers had not been involved in the process of risk assessment. If the company had taken proper precautions, then another set of vehicle lifts available at the time of the incident could have been used instead or the tri-axle buses could have been taken to another depot for reparation.

The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was ordered to pay fines of £10,500 in addition to costs of £10,000. HSE Inspector, Jane Wolfenden had this to say about the incident –

“The use of wooden blocks in this way could easily have resulted in a fatality. It was foreseeable that the blocks were likely to give way, putting the lives of employees at risk. Had the company carried out an effective risk assessment that involved site engineers, this entirely preventable incident could have been avoided.”

Bus Company Prosecuted after Apprentice Suffers Facial Injuries

Stagecoach Yorkshire, one of the main bus operators in South Yorkshire has been ordered to pay fines by Barnsley Magistrates’ Court for safety violations following an incident where a teenage apprentice became trapped under a 14 tonne bus due to an air suspension failure on 7 September 2009 . The apprentice, Ben Burgin from Penistone, who was 17 at the time, subsequently needed plastic surgery to restore his nose and eye socket after the accident which occurred at the company’s garage in Barnsley.

At the time of the incident, Mr Burgin was working to remedy a fault with the brakes on a bus which had been fitted with an air suspension system with the help of an experienced fitter. Instead of transferring the bus above an inspection pit, the bus was still on the garage floor when they tried to fix it. Mr Burgin was underneath the bus when the air suspension failed suddenly and the bus fell on him, leaving his face badly damaged. Another worker hurried to his aid and the bus was raised enough to free him.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the accident and subsequently prosecuted the Stagecoach Yorkshire’s owners, Yorkshire Traction Company Ltd of Stockport, Cheshire. They were fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £8,473 in costs after pleading guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The HSE Inspector  who investigated the case, Steve Kay, had this to say following the hearing –

“Thankfully Ben has been able to return to work but he had a painful recovery after suffering a totally needless ordeal.

“When employing young people, it is crucial that firms take particular account of their obvious lack of experience and lack of awareness of risks.

“The risks involved when working on buses and coaches with air suspension systems are well known in the motor industry. The latest guidance has warnings about never going underneath unless the buses are properly supported. There have been incidents in the past, including deaths, when air suspension systems have failed catastrophically while someone was underneath.

“Yorkshire Traction fell well below a reasonable standard. It failed to take basic precautions such as looking at all the risks involved and specifying a safe system of work for their employees, including close supervision.

“Young people are more vulnerable. The purpose of assessing the risks they may encounter is not to produce paperwork but to protect them as best you are able.”