Exploding lighter fuel can left teen needing skin graft

A teenager had to undergo skin grafts on his leg when a lighter fuel can exploded in the shop where he had worked for three weeks.

And when Nathan Lester, 19, returned to work after extensive treatment to his injured calf he was told he had been sacked, Blackpool Magistrates were told.

Blackpool Magistrates Court

Blackpool Magistrates Court

The court heard shop owner Arumugan Mohan, 40, of Amersham, Bucks, and his family run 26 shops across the UK.

He personally runs three of them including the Today Local shop on Lord Street, Fleetwood where the incident took place.

Mohan admitted four offences brought by Wyre Council under Health and Safety laws.

- Failing to ensure the welfare of staff in connection with the storage of stock causing a catastrophic failing in a lighter fuel can left next to a heater which exploded behind the shop counter.

- Failing to discharge a general duty of health and safety to staff.

- Failing to carry out a risk assessment

- Exposing his staff to risk.

He was fined £36,000 and ordered to pay £170 victims surcharge and £1,764 costs.

Mary Grimshaw, prosecuting for the council, said fire and ambulance crews were called to the explosion and the staff member needed several medical procedures.

A health and safety investigation followed.

The prosecutor added: “Nathan had not been given any training or health and safety guidance.”

The court heard when Mohan was formally interviewed he denied being Mr Lester’s employer and had no direct responsibility for the Fleetwood store.

Further investigations revealed he was responsible for Mr Lester’s contract of employment.

Mohan told the hearing that he apologised unreservedly for what happened and said his insurance company was dealing with a claim by the worker.

Magistrates said they did not accept his assertion that a member of staff had moved the fan heater out of storage and placed it next to the lighter fuel cans.

Coun Lynne Bowen, Leisure, Health and Community Engagement Portfolio Holder at Wyre Council, said: “Wyre Council takes health and safety matters very seriously and if premises don’t comply I can assure you we will take action whenever and wherever necessary.”

“Enforcement responsibility for workplaces is split between the council and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with this particular type of workplace, a retail shop, coming under Wyre Council’s enforcement responsibility.”