Fuel Tank Explosion Paralyses Morcambe Father

A man was paralysed in an accident at work in an airport fuel tank manufacturer, a court heard on October 29th.

Preston Crown Court was told that Karol Robaczewski, a father of three from Morcambe, was working for Fuel Proof Ltd on its Middleton Industrial Estate property, and on September 9th 2011, he was asked to clean the inside of a bowser – a 20,000-litre fuel tank.

He was wiping down the walls with a flammable solvent when he decided the lamp he was illuminating the tank with had become too warm. He removed the plug from its socket, which created a spark and ignited the fumes. Flames were seen to rise two metres above the six-metre-long tank.

This melted his protective suit and mask, leaving Mr Robaczewski with burns to his lips, arms, face and legs. He is now almost completely paralysed and required three months of hospital treatment.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Fuel Proof had never completed a risk assessment for the dangers of cleaning fuel tanks with the flammable solvent. The solvents had been making workers feel sick and the day after the explosion, the company began to use soapy water instead of a flammable solvent.

Fuel Proof Ltd was fined £66,000 with costs of £25,000.

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