Garage fined after oil drum explosion killed engineer

Motor oil drums were found to have previously also contained highly flammable gasoline but had not been labelled correctly

Garage fined after oil drum explosion killed engineer
Image: Google Street View.

An MOT centre has been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,167 after an oil drum it supplied exploded and killed an agricultural engineer.

Christopher Chatfield, an experienced agricultural engineer, was making metal pheasant feeders for the local game shoot at Puddock Down Warboys, Cambridgeshire, on April 21, 2017.

He was converting empty 200 litre oil containers by cutting open the lids using a plasma torch but while cutting open the third drum it exploded and killed him.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the empty drums, labelled as having contained motor oil, were found to have also previously contained highly flammable gasoline, but had not been labelled correctly.

Related: RAC employee sentenced after sharing personal data

The residual gasoline vapour present within the drums violently ignited upon the action of the hot cutting process, causing fatal injuries to Chatfield.

Stonehill MOT Centre of Stockley Meadows, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Parmjit Gahir said: “Those who are involved in the sale or supply of an article or substance, in this case used oil drums, have a responsibility to ensure that adequate information is provided so that the person buying the article can ensure that it can be safely used, cleaned and maintained.

Related: Rogue car dealer avoids jail despite £190,000 in fraudulent sales

“Failure to provide any labelling information on the used drums, to show that they had also contained gasoline, did not allow for the necessary precautions to be considered and adopted when cutting the drums open.

“If appropriate labelling had been in place this incident could have been avoided.”

Share your comments below.

Home Page Forums Garage fined after oil drum explosion killed engineer

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #212504 Reply

    An MOT centre has been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,167 after an oil drum it supplied exploded and killed an agricultural engineer. Ch
    [See the full post at: Garage fined after oil drum explosion killed engineer]

    #212507 Reply

    There may be more to this story than first meets the eye, and one must be mindful and respectful of the fact that an individual has tragically lost his life.

    The report also provides no detail as to the type of lance, nor of the method that was being employed. However it must surely be acknowledged that any process for cutting up used oil cans which relies upon intense localised heat must be considered inherently dangerous, and would appear to carry with it a certain risk of explosion. It seems a far cry from the notion of safe reuse, cleaning and maintenance to which the HSE in it’s no doubt carefully-prepared valedictory statement refers.

    Contrast the loss of life in this instance with the multiple deaths each year that are directly attributable to government inaction over air pollution.

    You could be forgiven for concluding that this was a state-sponsored show trial of a particularly soft target. Elsewhere in the world such activity would be deplored, yet here it seems it’s what we pay our taxes for.

    #212509 Reply

    There has got to be more to this, as i cant believe that someone has taken an oil drum, which by definition contains a flammable substance, then tried to cut it open with a source of ignition, gets hurt and blames someone else.
    Is this just the PC brigade gone nuts or am i missing something?
    What did he think would happen?

    #212616 Reply
    T allen

    Not sure this is true
    If it is, the loss of life is sad
    The responsibility lies with the man cutting the drums, these accidents happen every year. The garage should have appealed it , unless the man cutting the drums was deemed to be an employee .
    Before cutting any tanks, flush clean, vent, fill with water

    #212622 Reply

    Very sad that a life has been lost in such an easily avoided accident.
    Surely an experienced engineer would not cut a drum open without at the very least removing the bung. When the bung was removed the petrol smell must have been obvious.
    There must be further unpublished details to justify such a high penalty.

    #213632 Reply

    I had a similar instance 40 years ago with an employee cutting open Genclean drums with a gas torch. THe stuff produced Phosgene gas when heated. The elderly employee was reluctant to stop and fill the drums with inert gas first. I had to threaten him with instant dismisal to stop and obey. He consistendly ignored safety instructions until he died of Cancer which I believe was due to his ignoring any health and safety instructions.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)


Reply To: Garage fined after oil drum explosion killed engineer

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have your say!

1 0

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.

Sign Up