A dad-of-three who suffered horrific injuries in an explosion at his workplace insists his “life will never be the same again”.
Karol Robaczewski was cleaning the inside of a 20,000 litre fuel tank, known as a bowser, when he was engulfed by a fireball that caused severe burns and left him almost completely paralysed.
Fuel Proof Ltd was prosecuted after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident at Middleton Industrial Estate in Heysham identified serious safety failings.
The company has been ordered to pay £91,000 in fines and costs.
Preston Crown Court was told Mr Robaczewski had climbed through a manhole cover on top of the six-metre-long tank and was cleaning the inside by applying a highly flammable solvent to a cloth and then wiping down the walls.
As he did this, a spark caused the fumes to ignite and he was surrounded by flames.
Mr Robaczewski suffered multiple burns over most of his body, including his arms, legs and face, his hair and eyebrows were burnt off, and his lips badly burnt. He was in hospital for three months and is now almost totally paralysed.
The HSE investigation found the method of cleaning the fuel tanks with a highly flammable solvent had been used since 2007, but Fuel Proof had failed to carry out any kind of risk assessment.
Fuel Proof Ltd was fined £66,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £25,000 after pleading guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE Inspector Rose Leese-Weller said: “It is shocking that Fuel Proof allowed workers to use a highly flammable solvent to clean the inside of fuel tanks for four years without giving a single thought to the risks.
Mr Robaczewski said: “Every morning after breakfast, I am moved into my wheelchair and stay there until it’s time for bed.
“Generally, I am very bored and frustrated. I am not able to do anything I used to do before the accident such as drive a car, go to karate sessions or play my trumpet which I played since the age of 12.
“I can’t play football with my son or give my children a cuddle, and my life will never be the same again.”