Two employees were burnt whilst removing paint in a yacht

Prosecution followed an accident to two employees who were burnt when flammable solvent fumes were ignited by an electric sander whilst removing paint from inside a confined space in a small yacht under repair.

An investigation showed the employer failed to:

  1. Carry out risk assessment for entry into a confined space
  2. Provide a safe system of work for cleaning paint in the confined space
  3. Select suitable work equipment for use in a flammable atmosphere in a confined space
  4. Ensure the safety of employees working in the confined space

There is a high potential for serious injury for those working in a confined space with flammable solvents.


The employer was prosecuted under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (No 3) paragraph 1 and The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 (No 4) paragraph 2, and fined.


Work should not be done in a confined space if at all possible. If this is unavoidable, measures must be taken to ensure the workers are kept safe by

  1. Doing a risk assessment that identifies the hazards, risks and control measures needed to keep the workers safe.
  2. Planning the work.
  3. Selecting, providing and inspecting work equipment that is suitable.
  4. Training workers adequately.
  5. Monitoring the suitability of the system of work.

The use of electricity in potentially explosive atmospheres is covered on another page of the electrical safety website.

The downloadable HSE guidance Controlling the risks in the workplace provides guidance on how to select measures to control the risks in a wide range of work activities. The downloadable leaflet Controlling fire and explosion risks in the workplace provides guidance on how to identify potentially explosive atmospheres in your workplace.

Is this page useful?

Updated 2023-01-09