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Welder blinded after drum blast

A MAIDSTONE company which supplies road safety products, has been fined £660,000 after awelder suffered life-threatening injuries when an oil drum hewas working on exploded. Maidstone Crown Court heard

how father-of-two Andrew Foster (41), an employee of Highway Care Limited was using a plasma cutter to cut up a 45-gallon container that he believed was clean and empty. However, the drum had contained a flammable substance and he was left blind when it exploded in his face, causing head and brain in- juries. He has lost vision in his right eye

and has limited vision in his left eye. He was taken to King’s Coll- lege Hospital where he was put into an induced month-long coma and had to have nine operations. More are likely to be necessary. An investigation by the Health

and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident on August 6, 2012 found that the company failed to ensure the health and safety of its em-

ployees. Highway Care Limited, of Detling Hill, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £660,000 and ordered to pay costs of £33,358.46. HSE Inspector Caroline Fullman

said: “Andrew Foster has been left with devastating injuries that will impact on the rest of his and his family’s lives. This incident could have resulted in a fatality. “If awelding torch or plasma cut-

ter is used on a tank or drum that has contained or contains a flam- mable substance, it can explode. It only takes a small amount of residue to create a potentially flam- mable atmosphere. “Mr Foster wants others to learn

of the risk of hot work on drums and tanks – he was previously un- aware of the risk.” Mr Foster, from Sheerness, had

been an employee since 2007, working at the company’s sites in Detling Hill and Dolphin Park in nearby Sittingbourne. 5,000 at model airshow

AN estimated 5,000 visitors turned out to sample some amazing scale models at Headcorn Aerodrome at the weekend. Spectacular stunts and breath-taking displays by model aircraft, built

to the most intricate detail, filled the air, flying over trade stalls and exhibitions by water- bourne craft in a giant tank.

Mini racing cars competed on a track and there were some explosive pyrotechnics to set the scene. This year’s Southern Model Show, held in association with Maidstone Flying Club, also included an arts and craft village. A spokesman said: “It was

Picture: Richard Foord

a fantastic two days. It was great to see enthusiasts both novice and experienced, plus families enjoying the displays, including a stunning firework and night timemodel air show.”

Village flats plan is approved

PLANS to redevelop a block of garages into a flat in Hollingbourne have been approved despite opposi- tion from the village. Residents and the parish council objected to the development of the site at 21 Eyhorne Street into a two- bedroom flat, due to concerns over loss of parking and possible damage to adjoining historic buildings. Maidstone Borough Council

(MBC) planning committee sup- ported the development. A comment which was posted on

the Hollingbourne Parish Council website read: “Residents have ex- pressed deep concern ... about the way MBC disregarded concerns on planning issues including the fact that sewerage, drainage, and traffic infrastructure cannot copewithnew development.”

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