Garage fined £20,000 after worker suffers fatal burns

Thursday, 4th Sep '08 at 09:49

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning garages to ensure they have safe methods in place for working on vehicle fuel systems, after a Twickenham garage pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches which led to the death of one of its workers, Biagio Malacaria.

Alexanders of Twickenham Ltd, a car MOT, service and repair business, was found guilty on 25 June at the City of London Magistrates Court of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that it failed to ensure the safety at work of its employees.

The company was fined £20,000, the maximum fine possible in a Magistrates’ Court for the offence. They were also instructed to pay costs of £16,905.

On 12 December 2005 Biagio Malacaria, a mechanic employed by Alexanders, was working on a car’s fuel system, which involved draining fuel from the vehicle. During this process, his overalls were set alight and he was engulfed in flames. The flames were extinguished by two colleagues, one of whom was also injured in the process. Mr Malacaria was taken to The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, but died from pneumonia as a result of his injuries on 6 January 2006.

HM Inspector of Health and Safety Andrew Withers, who was prosecuting, said:

“This is a case where a man died as a result of serious injuries he suffered after working with woefully inadequate equipment, and it is shocking that the employer had not realised the danger created by petrol being moved and stored in open containers near obvious sources of ignition.”

“The company failed in its duties in a number of ways including having no risk assessment for fire and explosions, a lack of safety measures for this type of work and failing to ensure that all staff were suitably trained.”

“I hope this case encourages other employers who have to control the risks created by petrol to double check their arrangements and ensure they are adequate and sensible. There is plenty of free advice on our website - www.hse.gov.uk - to assist them in protecting both employees and members of the public”.

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