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School and building firm fined after worker suffers burns

A school and building company were fined after a worker suffered burns while removing an oil tank.

The Health and Safety Executive has warned schools to take extra care over building and maintenance work following the incident at St Bede’s Catholic Science College in Tollfield Road, Boston.

The independent school admitted failing to plan the work properly and failing to give the builders proper instructions for the work. It was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £900 at Skegness Magistrates Court .

The injured man's employers, R Harvey Builders, of Redstone Industrial Estate, Boston, admitted failing to carry out a risk assessment, and were fined £1,000 with £800 costs.

HSE brought the prosecution after an investigation into a fire at the school in September 2007. Sawdust had been used to soak up waste oil from a heating oil tank being removed, but when the builders cut up the tank with an angle grinder, sparks set the fuel alight and one of the workers was engulfed in flames.

The blaze was so serious the fire service had to be called and students were evacuated.

Nottingham HSE inspector Jo Anderson said: 'This case highlights the extra need to work safely at schools, and to plan properly so all the risks are taken into account.

“If the school and the builders each knew what the other was doing, this incident would not have happened, and the worker would not have been injured.'

The school was charged with breaching regulations 5(1) and 12(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, and the builders were charged under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. Maximum fines at magistrates court are £20,000 on each charge.