A WORKER suffered 40% burns to his upper torso and head during a fire that ravaged a famous tall ship in Dorset.

Winchester Crown Court heard the fire broke out on board the Malcolm miller tall ship as it was undergoing a major refurbishment at Hythe Marina on 10 June 2008.The Schooner which was badly damaged, was previously used as a training vessel after being built in the 1960s with part funding from former mayor of london Sir james Miller.

YACHT FIRM FINED The refurbishment project was overseen by Yacht Project Associates Ltd (YPAL) and company director Allan Foot, who jointly acted as principal  contractors. Rolf Kitching, who was employed by a separate company, was working in a saloon area on steelwork that had been sprayed with insulation foam when the fire broke out. There were no witnessess who saw the fire and mr Kitching can not remember the incident. The 45 year old was found by colleagues after the fire had broken out and they risked their lives to pull him out of the blaze.He spent four  months in hospital and is unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that hot work on board the ship was poorly controlled and managed by YPAL and Allen Foot. Other issues included in experienced workers not being given sufficient information, instruction or training on the risks of hot work; emergency arrangements were poor; and there was no fire watch in place at the time of the incident. Inspectors also learned that a small fire which had occurred earlier the same morning was not investigated or properly dealt with.

HSE inspector Angela Sirianni said the fact that nobody was killed in the fire or that other workers were not serious injured as well,is purely a matter of luck. The system of work was clearly unsafe, and should have been better managed by YPAL and Allen Foot as principal contractors.

“All hot work poses risks especially in a confined area where toxic and flammable substances are present. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment is a necessity, and the work must be carefully controlled at all times.”

YPAL appeared in court on 27 September and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined a total of £25.000 and ordered to pay £65.000 in costs. Allen Foot also attended the hearing and pleaded guilty to the same charges , but no further penalty was imposed.

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