A West Yorkshire foundry firm has introduced fire retardant clothing for workers after one of its staff was engulfed in flames two years ago.
Batley Foundry Limited was fined £15,000 by judge yesterday after experienced worker Kevin Hirst was left with permanent scarring following the accident at its premises in August 2014.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Mr Hirst, who was only wearing a T-shirt and jeans, had been applying a coating to a mould and the next thing he remembered was screaming for someone to “put him out.”
A colleague reported seeing Mr Hirst holding a bucket which had 2ft flames coming out of it before he dropped it to the floor and the “burning paint” went over him.
Another colleague used a fire extinguisher put out the flames, but Mr Hirst suffered full thickness burns to parts of his body and had to undergo painful skin grafts at Pinderfields Hospital.
The court heard that the coating process had involved the use of the highly flammable substance isopropanol.
Mr Hirst spent four weeks in hospital and although the company tried to provide further work for him he had now left the firm and was working as a delivery driver.
The firm, which has operated for more than 100 years and employs 22 people, admitted breaching health and safety legislation at a previous hearing before Kirklees magistrates.
Barrister John Cooper QC, for the company, highlighted the fact that they had no previous history of offending or any enforcement notices.
He said the company had cooperated full with the health and safety executive and had reacted properly since the accident.
Mr Cooper said the company had manufactured its own metal buckets with lids which could be closed in the event of fire and had decided to issue their workforce with fire retardant clothing for such work.
The workforce had also been given “refresher” training about how to deal with bucket fires.
Imposing the fine Judge Colin Burn said the keeping of substances such as isopropanol in plastic buckets near to work stations was “an unsatisfactory state of affairs.”
He said it was not clear what exactly happened at the time of the accident, but at the end of it Mr Hirst was covered essentially “head to toe” in flames which were put out by an employee with a fire extinguisher.
The judge said he was satisfied that it was not a case were the company had been cutting corners and he welcomed the steps taken to provide staff with clothing and metal buckets.
The company will have to pay costs of £9,000.