Novice fitter who complained about equipment and lack of training died after tyre exploded in his FACE

April 11, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

A novice fitter died when a tyre exploded in his face just weeks after he complained about faulty equipment and a lack of training, an inquest heard.

Matthew Hoare, 21, had only been in his job for six months when he lost his life.

He was repairing a puncture on a 5ft tyre of a loader vehicle by inflating it directly from a compressor instead of using a safer inflating line.

The compressor made the tyre rupture and Matthew was killed instantly as he was blown 15ft across the workshop at Watling Tyres in Canterbury, Kent.

His grieving mother Carolyn Hoare told a coroner how her son had complained to her about the safety procedures at his work.

And she said that when he asked for further training his manager told him there was none.

Mrs Hoare, 53, said: “Matthew often told me about the state of his equipment and, in particular, a faulty pressure gauge which he reported to his manager.

“One morning while getting ready for work, he said he had asked his manager for training but was told there wasn’t any for commercial tyres, even though he was out and about in a van doing it.

“He was told if he didn’t want the job, there were other people who did.

“But he enjoyed it. Matthew was a very hard-working and loyal person.”

The inquest also heard the van of equipment Matthew was working from was a “mess” and there was no gauge to tell the tyre-fitter how much pressure he was applying.

The tyre-fitting equipment was taken for examination by health and safety inspectors immediately after the death on January 27, 2006.

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Mike Walters said of the van carrying the equipment: “It was mess inside – not very well-organised.

“There were booklets with tyre pressure charts for vehicles but nothing relating to a digger-type vehicle.

“The compressor had only half a gauge – the glass was broken and the needle missing.

“There was no other gauge outside the vehicle meaning Matthew would have had no way of knowing what air pressure was going into the tyre.

“There were health and safety regulations on display, booklets about health and safety and blank personal training record forms, but I could find nothing to indicate Matthew had received any training.

“It’s fair to say I was not happy with the training regime within the company and issued an improvement notice to ensure all current staff and new people were competent to do what was asked of them.

“In general terms, they needed to sort out the shortcomings in their training system.”

The Watling Tyres’ director and the company’s regional branch manager refused to answer crucial questions at the inquest on the advice of their barrister.

The inquest jury did hear a statement made by director Andrew Wright to police and health and safety officers soon after Matthew’s death.

In it he said that training for new recruits was the responsibility of depot branch managers.

Mr Wright said: “I ensured all branch managers were familiar with our Health and Safety requirements and they had been reminded to complete training records.

“I understand a training record was not completed by the branch manager Des Smith.

“Matthew was a quick learner and after three months had experience in car, commercial and agricultural work and it was decided he could go solo.

“For some reason, he decided to inflate the tyre directly from the compressor when he should have attached it to a hand held line.

“If he didn’t have the correct size adaptor, he should have returned to pick one up or called for assistance.”

“I could not have taken any further steps to prevent the incident.”

The inquest had been delayed for seven years to allow police investigations to be carried out.

The CPS and Kent police concluded there was no criminal case for Watling Tyres to answer.

But after a judicial review the CPS decided to look into reopening the case against Matthew’s employers in April 2010. It was again decided there was no criminal case to answer.

The inquest was further delayed by an ongoing investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The inquest continues.

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