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A tyre company from Kent has been fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of a further £99,000 after one of its employees was killed when a tyre exploded.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how an employee of Watling Tyre Service Ltd was repairing a puncture on a dresser-loading shovel when the tyre exploded, killing him instantly.

After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Mike Walters said: “Employees need to be provided with properly maintained equipment and the correct equipment to undertake tasks whilst out on site. Employees also need to be trained and competent in the tasks they were asked to undertake.”

The investigation by the HSE found that the employee was working on his own without adequate training, and with equipment that was not properly maintained.

Maintaining equipment is a vital part of any company’s health and safety management policy; alongside ensuring that employees are properly trained to carry out any activity they are expected to perform.

Tyre removal, replacement and inflation should only be tackled by competent and suitably trained employees. The main hazards that can arise include:

  • manual handling injuries, which account for nearly a half of all tyre-related incidents reported;
  • tool-related injuries (which make up a quarter of incidents), particularly from hand-tools such as tyre-levers; and
  • compressed-air accidents eg from a ruptured or burst tyres or violent separation of the component parts of the wheel. These accidents tend to result in serious injuries, including fatalities.

 

Safety during tyre inflation

Inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy, which varies according to the inflation pressure and the surface area of the tyre (eg the sidewall of a typical commercial vehicle tyre has to withstand over 34 tonnes of force from compressed air before additional carriage weight is taken into account).

If the tyre fails, an explosive force can be released at an angle of up to 45 degrees from the rupture (which is often, but not always, the face of the sidewall). This has resulted in numerous fatalities over the years. It is crucial that the airline hose between the clip-on chuck and the pressure gauge/control is long enough to allow the operator to stand outside the likely trajectory of any explosion during inflation. This will vary depending on the size of the tyre and its positioning.

 

If you or someone you know has been injured at work you could be entitled to claim for compensation. Contact one of our highly trained solicitors today to find out how we can help you get the pay out you deserve.