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Company and director prosecuted after 15-year-old boy suffers serious burn injuries

A metal recycling firm and its director have been sentenced after a 15-year-old employee of the company suffered serious burns following an explosion and flash fire.

On 1 August 2019 the boy, working on a casual basis for A&S Metal Recycling Limited, suffered 22% burns to his body when aerosol canisters he had fed into a shredding machine exploded causing a flash fire at Unit 75A, Barracks Road, Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, DY13 9RW.

Investigating, the HSE found that the work unit was not an appropriate facility for processing aerosol canisters; control measures to prevent or mitigate fire and explosion risks were not put in place. Despite this, the activity was undertaken by minors, employed as a part of a casual working arrangement, using inadequate equipment.

A&S Metal Recycling Limited of Barracks Road, Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, Stourport-on-Severn pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £66,000 served as a compensation order to be paid to the injured person, ordered to pay cost of £8,192.55.

Simon Davies, director of A&S Recycling Limited, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was given a six-month custodial sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Alex Stobart said: “The waste and recycling industry has the potential to be extremely hazardous, and in this case two children were needlessly exposed to significant risks on site.

“The explosion and fire led to one child being hospitalised with significant burn injuries. This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing the correct control measures and a safe system of work, as standard within the industry.

“Waste and recycling companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

HSE February 2022

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