AN AGENCY worker lost his leg from the knee down after an oil drum he was cutting exploded.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident at Hambridge Business Park in Newbury.

As a result of the incident, a commercial vehicle dealer has been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,671.

Rygor Commercials Limited was found to have failed to provide a safe system of work to dispose of the stockpile of empty oil drums.

The agency worker was injured when he used oxy-acetylene gas cutting equipment to cut up empty oil drums.

As the flame from this gas cutting equipment came into contact with the drum, the flammable vapours inside the drum ignited, and the drum exploded.

The impact of the explosion resulted in the drum lid hitting the employee’s lower right leg and the main body of the drum landed roughly 20m away.

Nancy Harman, an inspector for HSE, said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.

"If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

Rygor Commercials Limited, based in Westbury, admitted to the offences at a hearing at Reading Magistrates' Court.

The investigation also found the company failed to provide adequate instruction, supervision and training on the risks associated with the use of oxy-acetylene gas equipment.