Hotel Beautician Engulfed in Fireball

A Lancashire hotel has admitted health and safety failings after a beautician suffered serious burns when she was engulfed in flames.

Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard Julie McKeown was working at The Dalmeny Hotel in Lytham St. Annes when the incident took place on 12 January 2012. The 38-year-old was using acetone to remove an elderly customer’s false fingernails. Some of the liquid spilled from a 2.5 litre container and the fumes were ignited by a tealight in a nearby lantern. This created a fireball, which engulfed Ms McKeown and she suffered serious burns to her chest, neck and arms. She was rushed to hospital where she underwent skin grafts. Nobody else was injured in the incident.

The incident was investigated by Fylde Council and multiple safety failings were identified. Environmental health officer for the council Micky Duck revealed that if a smaller container had been provided the spillage would have been less likely. He said: ‘We found that the hotel hadn’t adequately assessed the risks caused by use of such a large container of acetone and also by the proximity of the tealight.

Such a risk assessment and a separate consideration under the control of substances harmful to health would have averted the dangers, which were plain to see.

Dalmeny Hotel Ltd appeared in court on 1 April and pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay £9,075 in costs.

Source: FRM Journal

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Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

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