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Safety breach costs workshop dearly

An incident at a Lincolnshire garage has cost it £24,000 in fines and costs after it was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Hockmeyer Motors on Lincoln Road, Sleaford, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 costs, at Grantham Magistrates' Court yesterday after pleading guilty to Health and Safety at Work Act breaches.

In January 2008, a student from a local school was enrolled on a work experience placement at Holdingham Garage, a Daihatsu dealership owned by Hockmeyer Motors, when he suffered burns from a fire-ball.

The fire-ball, which melted the plastic print of his t-shirt onto his skin, was caused by brake fluid which ignited after being sprayed onto a running engine by a colleague.

HSE inspector Judith McNulty-Green, said: "This incident left a young man hospitalised, and could have been avoided if the company had assessed the risk associated with such habitual use of the solvent and implemented appropriate risk control measures to reduce identified risks.

"Work experience pupils are viewed as employees for the purposes of health and safety legislation, yet they are often more vulnerable than a company's trained and qualified employees.

"It is therefore imperative that if companies contract to have work experience pupils from local schools they update any risk assessments to take into consideration this particularly vulnerable group of employee."

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