Worker burned in explosion after being instructed to set weeds alight

A Polish man was badly burned after being told by bosses to set a pile of vegetation alight.

The employee, who has not been named, was working for Greenstripe Ltd – a gardening company who had been tasked with clearing an overgrown area of scrubland in Chester.

The work had been carried out in July 2013, with employees pulling up giant hogweed and other unwanted plants.

On August 2nd, the firm had returned to the site and the 31-year-old man had been told to pour a petrol can over the heap of greenery and use a cigarette lighter to set it on fire.

As he did so, there was a loud explosion and he was thrown to the ground. The man’s face, throat, body, arms and hands were burned in the blast.

Last week, Warrington Crown Court heard that his employers had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment and could have taken the hogweed to be burned at a licensed waste site.

The Chester-based company was fined £23,000 and ordered to pay an additional £9,682 in costs, after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Deborah Walker, from the Health and Safety Executive, said that the burns could affect the worker for the rest of his life.

“There was absolutely no need for the vegetation to be disposed of in this way, putting the lives of workers in danger,” said Ms Walker.

“It could easily have been taken to a nearby waste site without the risk of employees being injured.”

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