Tanker explosion leaves two badly burned

The HSE started an investigation into a national oil and environmental services company after an accident which left two of its workers burned, one of whom was left with life changing injuries.

The accident happened when the two men used the tanker to remove fuel from disused pumps and then, after offloading the waste petrol, attempted to pressure clean out the inside of the tanker. It is at this point that there was an explosion which engulfed the workers and also set fire to the yard and burnt the side of an adjacent building.

Accident investigators concluded that the petrol vapour from inside the tanker had escaped into the yard when the door was opened and a spark was caused by the pressure washer or possibly another ignition source which caused the explosion.

The HSE prosecuted the company and found them guilty of failing to ensure safety procedures were carried out for cleaning out its tanker lorries. The oil company was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £8,166 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

As a result of the accident one of the men sustained life-changing injuries that left him hospitalised for three and a half months and in a critical condition. Now recovered the 32 year old can’t expose his skin to direct sunlight and is unlikely to be able to return to work.

An HSE Inspector said:

“Two men were badly burned, with one suffering horrific, life-changing injuries, because their employer didn’t do enough to make sure they stayed safe.

“… is experienced in dealing with flammable substances but its risk assessment for cleaning out the tanker did not identify fire or explosion as a potential danger.

“The firm now uses a specialist contractor to clean out its tankers to avoid the risk of vapours escaping. If this procedure had been in place at the time of the incident then the injuries both men suffered could have been avoided.”

Accidents do happen and often a company will look after you following an accident but this doesn’t mean they are not at fault. If you received an injury when working with dangerous machinery then your company may be responsible for not having the appropriate hand guards in place or providing you with the necessary training to do your job safely or safety equipment. Sometimes the type of work you are doing may require a risk assessment or different type of machinery.

If you are interested in finding out about whether you can claim compensation for an accident or injury sustained at work call now on 0800 089 4444 for a free no-obligation conversation with our specialist team or complete an enquiry online.