The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that David Gordon Stead, director of Stead Construction Services (SCS), had failed to ensure that waste material was burned safely. On 28 May 2015, Bradley Rossiter was instructed to stand on top of a skip and pour a drum of flammable thinners onto the burning waste to aid the burning process.
The HSE found that the thinner ignited and created a fireball, which blew Rossiter from the skip, inflicting substantial burns to his arms and legs. Following the incident, Stead did not give the worker first aid nor did he send him to hospital. He also ignored a legal requirement to inform the HSE of the accident, which was only reported sometime later by a third party.
Stead did not co-operate with the HSE investigation and also argued SCS had closed and was no longer able to trade. SCS and a second construction company, Quality Builders (Pontypridd) are listed at Companies House as being dissolved. However, investigating officers found that Stead was listed as being director of a third company, DS Quality Construction Services, which is still actively trading.
The case was first heard at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court on 4 January 2017 where Stead made an early guilty plea to breaching section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and section 4(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
Passed for sentencing at Cardiff Crown Court on 6 February 2017, Judge Jeremy Jenkins took into account the fact that neither Rossiter nor another worker present had received any training. He also noted that Stead’s employer’s liability insurance had lapsed and had not been renewed and that the effect of the injuries on the young worker had been profound. Judge Jenkins said: “The fact that you didn’t phone for an ambulance was unforgivable”.
He determined that Stead’s culpability was very high, and the harm fell in Category 2 – as the incident resulted in “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on the sufferer’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
Judge Jenkins imposed a 32-week prison sentence, which took into account Stead’s early guilty plea. The director was taken into immediate custody to serve his sentence concurrently with half served on release under licence. The judge also disqualified him from being a company director for seven years. No compensation or costs were awarded but Stead was required to pay a £140 victim surcharge.