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Factory explosion victim 'faced previous serious work accident'

By Marion Brennan | Dudley | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A father of six who died when a tank exploded at a factory had suffered a serious accident at work only two weeks before when scaffolding he was on gave way, an inquest heard.

The explosion happened at the site in October 2016

Raymond Wyman was saved only by his own safety harness following the incident at a factory near Merry Hill, Dudley, said his partner Katherine Watkins.

He had been working for NKD Machinery, the same firm that employed him at Heath Road, Darlaston, where the fatal explosion took place on October 31, 2016.

Mr Wyman, 36, from Pensnett, died in hospital from multiple injuries eight days later.

He had been working on top of a four-metre tank used by the former site owners to store methanol, burning bolts using an oxypropane cutting torch to enable the tank to be dismantled.

The torch is believed to have ignited the chemicals inside, causing the blast.

He had been employed as a metal burner by NKD for around four weeks, helping to clear sites by breaking down equipment and machinery left behind by the previous occupiers.

Mr Wyman told his partner that his new boss had not provided him with any safety equipment, except for boots that were too big for him that he could not wear, she said.

As a result he had brought in his own safety harness from home to wear on the job, adding “that’s what saved him” when the scaffolding collapsed at Merry Hill.

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When Ms Watkins was told of the explosion at KTC Edibles, the new site owners, in Darlaston, she was assured there was no cause for alarm, she told the inquest jury.

But no one from NKD could tell her what had happened or which hospital her partner had been taken to.

She and Mr Wyman’s family had to ring round themselves to discover he had been airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Doctors there broke the news of the severity of his injuries.

“They told me he wouldn’t be the same. He’d got fractures, blood clots and pressure on the brain, he would not remember who he was,” she said.

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Her partner, the father of her three children, had been thorough about safety issues and believed the tank to be empty when he started working on it, the inquest heard.

"Had he known there were chemicals in there [the tank], there was no way on earth he would have done it,” she said.

The hearing at Oldbury Coroner's Court continues.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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