Wales

£20,000 fine for Maxibrite after workers burnt tackling fire

Maxibrite Image copyright Jonathan Billinger
Image caption The incident happened at the Maxibrite factory in Llantrisant

A firm which produces solid fuel briquettes has been fined £20,000 after two workers suffered burns at a factory in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took Maxibrite Ltd to court following the 2012 incident in Llantrisant.

Pontypridd magistrates heard the workers were hit by hot material from an industrial drier when they opened an inspection hatch.

Maxibrite admitted two health and safety breaches.

HSE Inspector Steve Lewis said the incident could have been prevented.

"The drying process at the plant involved intensive heat so the risks of fire should have been obvious," he said.

"There had been a fire at the plant previously involving a similar drying process.

"Employers must make sure they have proper plans for dealing with emergency situations and that workers are trained to know what to do when something like a fire breaks out."

'Engulfed'

The court heard works manager Simon Gilbody and works engineer Andrew Price were alerted by staff who saw smoke coming from the top of a tower used to produce solid fuel.

After several attempts to control the fire by hosing the tower failed, Mr Gilbody decided an inspection hatch at the bottom of the tower should be opened to let out any material that might be causing an obstruction.

The hatch was opened by company employee Carl Lewis and hot cinders flew out, burning Mr Gilbody on the chest, neck and face but without causing serious injury.

As Mr Lewis tried to close the hatch, he was himself burnt. After showering for 30 minutes he was taken to hospital and received skin grafts for severe burns.

HSE's investigation found Maxibrite had not carried out a suitable risk assessment for the safe working of the rotary drier and failed to provide a safe way of working including adequate information, instruction and training for workers using the equipment, and in procedures to follow in the event of a fire.

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