Cardiff Crown Court heard the young worker was instructed to stand on top of a skip and pour a drum of flammable thinners onto the burning waste to help it go up.
The fireball that resulted when the thinners ignited caused the worker to be blown from the skip and he suffered substantial burns to his arms and legs.
An HSE investigation found the company director did not ensure the burning of the waste material was being carried out in a safe or appropriate manner.
He failed to administer any first aid to the young injured worker and did not send him to hospital.
He failed to inform HSE of the incident, a legal requirement, and the incident was only reported sometime later by a third party
David Gordon Stead of Beddau, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was sentenced to 32 weeks imprisonment, half on release under licence.
He has also been disqualified from being a company director for seven years.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector Adele Davies said “David Stead failed his employees. His actions could have resulted in the death of this worker.
“The young man suffered unnecessary life threatening injuries due to poor working standards.
“We hope this sentence sends out a message that directors of businesses must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”