Christchurch yacht company fined for safety breaches after a fire tore through a famous tall ship and almost a killed a worker
A Hampshire-based yacht company has been fined a total of £25,000 for breaching health and safety law after a fire broke out on board the Malcolm Miller tall ship.
The company was also ordered to pay £65,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Yacht Project Associates Ltd (YPAL) and company director Allan Foot were overseeing a major refurbishment project on the Malcolm Miller tall ship when a fire broke out and almost killed 45-year-old Rolf Kitching.
Mr Kitching, from Portsmouth, suffered 40 per cent burns to his upper torso and head as a result of the fire at Hythe Marina in June 2008.
Welder Mr Kitching was employed by a separate company and was working in a saloon area on steelwork that had been sprayed with insulation foam when the fire broke out.
He was found unconscious after other workers risked their lives to enter the burning ship and rescue him.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that hot work on board the ship was poorly controlled and managed by YPAL and Allan Foot.
Winchester Crown Court was told the incident could have been avoided, had better systems been in place.
Issues flagged by the investigation included inexperienced w
orkers not being given sufficient information and a lack of instruction or training on the risks of hot work.
There was no fire watch in place at the time of the incident, and emergency arrangements were poor.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Angela Sirianni said:
“The system of work was clearly unsafe, and should have been better managed by Yacht Project Associates and Allan Foot as principal contractors. ”
All hot work poses risks, especially in a confined area where toxic and flammable substances are present. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment is a necessity, and the work must be carefully controlled at all times.”