A company has been fined after an explosion in an old air raid shelter caused its employees injuries.
1st Surface Ltd had been contracted to extend and resurface a tennis court at a house in Bromley. As part of the work, they needed to strip back an area of the garden that was overgrown so that they could lay the new surface. This overgrown section also contained an old air raid shelter that needed to be demolished.
The clearance resulted in a pile of garden waste that was large enough to fill 5 skips. However, the two workers had not been provided with skips or told how to dispose of this waste. As a result, they decided to use the air raid shelter as a furnace to burn some of the waste.
They placed some waste in the shelter along with kindling, and poured on some petrol. The men were stood on the roof of the shelter as they threw a lit taper down the chimney to get the fire started. However, the petrol fumes in the shelter exploded, throwing the men off the roof.
Both of the workers suffered facial burns in the accident and had to spend time in hospital recovering. One of the men has been unable to return to work because of his injuries, since the accident happened in January 2011.
The HSE found that the company had failed to plan for waste disposal on the site. The workers were not aware of the risk from petrol vapours but would not have had to consider burning the waste if skips had been provided for them. The men should also have had the risks of petrol explained to them as it had been provided by the company for other purposes.
1st Surface Ltd were this week fined £9,000 for breaking health and safety law in regards to the accident.