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Worker suffers loss of eye in explosion while inflating tyre

Date:
19 November 2015

An Essex-based company which sells and services agricultural machinery has been fined £750,000* after an incident which left a worker permanently blind in one eye.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how the tyre technician, employed by Ernest Doe & Sons Limited at Ulting, near Maldon, was working with a colleague to re-fit and re-inflate the tyres of a customers’ 4-wheel-drive agricultural vehicle. During re-inflation, one of these tyres exploded, causing him to be blown across the workshop, and to sustain severe injuries to his head and to the right side of his face.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated this incident, which occurred on 10 December 2014, and found that the company failed to ensure that adequate instruction, training and supervision were provided to its tyre technicians. The company also failed to identify and remedy unsafe working practices that had been allowed to become the norm at its Ulting tyre depot.

On 19 November 2015, Ernest Doe & Sons Limited, of Maldon Road, Ulting, Essex, was fined £750,000, and ordered to pay HSE’s full prosecution costs of £9,155, after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking for HSE after the hearing, Principal Inspector Norman Macritchie said: “This type of regrettable incident was entirely foreseeable considering the evidently unsafe working practices undertaken at the depot. A worker sustained serious and life-changing injuries which could easily have proven fatal.

“While all tyre technicians require suitable training, those inflating the large, higher-pressure tyres fitted to many agricultural, commercial, and construction vehicles need to implement key additional precautions – such as using a suitable inflation cage or bag.

“Employers undertaking this type of activity have a duty to ensure that staff are competent to inflate larger higher-risk tyres, to use a system of work that is safe, and to implement effective management systems to supervise and monitor such activities.”

* Following an appeal on 12 July 2016, the fine was reduced to £100,000.

For further information about tyre removal and inflation, please visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/mvr/mechanical-repair/tyreremoval.htm

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ 
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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