Electrician engulfed in fuse box fireball

Grant Prior 7 years ago
Share

An electrician suffered severe burns when a ball of fire shot out from a fuse box he was cleaning and set his clothes alight.

Gordon Metcalf, 62 from Maryport was lucky to survive and is still undergoing treatment for his burns – nearly five years after the incident. He will never be able to return to work

A global packaging firm has been fined £90,000 following the accident at a factory in Cumbria in 2006.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Innovia Films Ltd discovered a fire in the fuse box during the previous afternoon but live cables had been routed through it so the cooling equipment at the factory could continue to operate.

This meant the company avoided having to shut down the plant for 36 hours to reset the machines.

When Metcalf and a colleague came into work the following morning they were asked to remove the debris from the fuse box and plate over the front to prevent access.

The court was told that a suitable risk assessment had not been carried out for the work, and that management at the company had allowed it to go ahead without the electricity supply being isolated.

Metcalf, who is married with two children and two grandchildren, suffered burns to 47%  of his body in the explosion. He was in a coma for four weeks, intensive care for six weeks and in hospital for five months.

He said: “I still cry at the drop of a hat. If someone asks what’s happened to me, that’s the hardest bit. I wake up in the middle of the night and just can’t get back to sleep once I start thinking about it.

“I remember the fireball just knocking me backwards, and I split my head open. I managed to get downstairs to some water, and only realised I was on fire when I saw my arm on the handrail.

“When I came out of hospital, I had to wear a suit over my head and body for a year and could only take it off to wash. I still have to apply cream three times a day to stop the scarring getting any worse.

“There’s no way I can return to return to work as an electrician as I struggle to grip with my hands. I’m also constantly short of breath and my skin flakes off if I knock my hand. I just wish Innovia had cut the electricity supply before asking us to do the work.”

Mark Dawson, HSE Principal Inspector for Cumbria, said: “It was an astonishing decision to allow work to go ahead without the live electricity supply being switched off, and even went against the company’s own work procedures.

“If the factory had been shut down for just a day and a half then neither of the workers would have suffered severe burns.”

Latest news

Nine in 10 councils breaking prompt payment rules

Findings emerge on six month anniversary of collapse of Carillion
12 hours ago

Roadworks speed limit could be raised to 60mph

Motorway trials to test different limits through highways sites
10 hours ago

McLaughlin & Harvey lands £50m Liverpool training centre

Construction to start in October on new academy
9 hours ago

Plans in for final phase of £1bn Chelsea Barracks scheme

Last phase includes 126 affordable homes, and separate sports and medical centres
19 hours ago

Joiners injured in temporary access platform collapse

Court hears how two workers plunged seven metres through unsafe platforms at hospital site
18 hours ago

Green light for £50m Portsmouth Uni sports centre

Sports hub is the first project in a £400m University upgrade plan
18 hours ago

Wates wins £161.5m Wembley resi blocks deal from Quintain

Latest deal is Wates largest ever award on a single site
4 days ago

Construction’s most considerate contractors win ultra site awards

Latest initiative rewards highest industry site standards and supply chain collaboration
19 hours ago

Boost your online presence – join the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
3 months ago

Go-ahead for 37-storey Leeds student tower

Work to start before the end of this year on landmark student tower
4 days ago

Construction degrees come under fire from students

Students claim courses fail to prepare them for life in the industry
4 days ago

McAlpine to start £30m Manchester biomedical hub

Work to start in September on Citylabs 2.0 building project
5 days ago

Roofer in six metre plunge on to solid concrete floor

Court hears how worker suffered multiple fractures after plunge on refurbishment job
4 days ago

Cost of industry skills cards set to rise in September

CSCS leaders confirm 20% price rise per card to £36
5 days ago

£300m Bristol Uni campus approved

Work due to start on Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus early next year
4 days ago

Crossrail’s Sir Terry Morgan to lead HS2

Morgan replaces David Higgins as HS2 chairman next month
4 days ago

Shake-up in cladding fire tests to cut wait times

New testing service launched as current capacity swamped post-Grenfell
4 days ago

£25m A55 improvement scheme gets green light

Contractor to be named shortly for 2.2km stretch of the A55 at Abergwyngregyn
5 days ago

Galliford Try starts £43m central Birmingham resi job

Works starts on three blocks of luxury flats at Windmill Hill
5 days ago

Ex Carillion boss Howson blames Government for collapse

Former chief executive attacks public body payment practices
5 days ago

Winners named for £12bn Government FM framework

Forty seven firms including 10 SMEs bag public sector FM places
5 days ago

Buckingham Group hits record profits for fourth year

Business gears up for HS2 work and sport and leisure division expansion
5 days ago

Bid race for £50m new M11 Harlow junction

Junction and road improvements to allow further expansion of Harlow
5 days ago

Costain/Galliford Try to start £373m M1 upgrade next month

Firm to start delayed 23-mile smart motorway upgrade in Northamptonshire
5 days ago

Wates looking to work with new North West subcontractors

Wates Living Space and Constructionline hosting Manchester Meet the Buyer event: Register now
5 days ago

Gas fittings cost cutting put college students at risk

HSE probe finds cheaper fittings were used on Royal Veterinary College upgrade
5 days ago

Vinci confirmed for £75m Trafford Centre upgrade

Construction to start later this year on revamp on Manchester shopping centre
6 days ago

Skanska UK profits tumble as margin squeezed to 0.8%

Profit falls for second year running as revenue rises to £1.8bn
6 days ago

Green light for Cheesegrater 2 in City of London

56-storey skyscraper will be third tallest building in the Square Mile
6 days ago

Caledonian tops £300m ‘modular C’ schools framework

Partners revealed for ESFA secondary school replacement programme
6 days ago

Contractor services