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Director imprisoned and banned after young worker burnt

13 February 2017

The director of a construction company has been sent to prison for eight months and banned from being a director following a young worker being burnt when he followed an instruction to stand on top of a skip and pour a drum of thinners on to burning waste.

The fireball that resulted caused the 17-year-old worker to be blown from the skip, suffering substantial burns to his arms and legs. But no first aid was administered to the young worker, neither was he sent to hospital, which a court heard would have been the most appropriate response given the severity of the injuries.

The firm failed to inform HSE of the incident (a legal requirement), which only came to light later when it was reported by a third party.

The incident led to David Gordon Stead of Mildred Street, Beddau, a Director of Stead Construction Services (SCS), pleading guilty when he appeared before Cardiff Crown Court this month (February) to breaching Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company director also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4 (1) of The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Passed for sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court on 6 February, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said he noted that Stead’s employer’s liability insurance had lapsed and had not been renewed and that the effect of the injuries on the young worker had been profound. Judge Jenkins said: “The fact that you didn’t phone for an ambulance was unforgivable.” Stead was sentenced to 32 weeks in prison and has been disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

The court heard that an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the company director did not ensure the burning of the waste material was being carried out in a safe or appropriate manner.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Adele Davies said: “David Stead failed his employees. His actions could have resulted in the death of this worker. The young man suffered unnecessary life threatening injuries due to poor working standards.

“We hope this sentence sends out a message that directors of businesses must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”

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