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Firm fined for explosion that put worker in coma

An insulation subcontractor has been fined more than £50,000 after a petrol-powered equipment explosion left a worker with severe burns.

The employee was in his second day on the job for Birmingham-based Greenseal Insulation, spraying insulation into a ceiling cavity of a retail outlet, when the incident occurred.

Staff had returned to refuel petrol-powered spraying equipment in a van parked outside the building when foam stopped coming out of their spray gun.

The inexperienced employee was covered in petrol and set ablaze when he opened a jerry can attached by straps to the compressor and generator, which were both petrol-operated.

The explosion left him in a coma for three months, and he spent a year in hospital recovering from his injuries.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Greenseal had failed to ensure that risk from dangerous substances was “either eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable”.

HSE suggested the company could have reduced the risk of an accident by using diesel-powered equipment or reducing the frequency of refuelling by installing a larger fuel tank.

It added that, had larger tanks been used, refilling could have been reduced to once a day and taken place in the morning when the equipment had not been used and was cool.

The investigation also highlighted that petrol could have been stored away from sources of heat, and that the chances of spilling would have been reduced by the use of smaller containers or a non-spilling fuel delivery nozzle.

Greenseal Insulation Ltd, of 45 Wycombe Road, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002. 

It was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,779.

HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said: “This was the worker’s second day on the job.

“He suffered horrific injuries due to the company’s failure to adequately consider the risks from refuelling and implementing safer alternatives to the system of work requiring refuelling petrol-powered equipment every two hours.”


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