A waste-materials inspector who was left paralysed in one arm sues his former employer for negligence A waste-materials inspector was paralysed in his left arm when inflammable vapour from a container of foam beads exploded, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Yip King-leung, 48, opened a sealed container at an inspection centre in Ho Sheung Heung Road, Kwu Tung, on December 16, 1998, to take samples of the beads before they were to be sent to the mainland for recycling. He claims that the container, which held 20 cartons of polystyrene beads, had filled with the vapour pentane during transport from Kwai Chung container terminal. Barrister Ashok Sakhrani told the court that while Mr Yip was carrying out his inspection, the vapour was ignited by sparks from an unknown source. Mr Yip suffered head injuries, second-degree burns to the face and both hands, and fractured bones in his left arm, left knee and left thigh bone. He also injured the nerves in the left upper limb, leaving him paralysed in the arm. He is now suing his former employer, China Inspection Company, for $3.8 million. Mr Yip claims China Inspection was negligent in failing to properly establish and enforce a safety system to guard against any risk of explosion. The other defendants named in the case included the driver of the container truck, Lee Sing-tung, and the owner of the materials, Wing Shun Plastic Materials Company. It was the plaintiff's case that Mr Lee and Wing Shun also failed to take precautionary measures by allowing potential dangerous gas to accumulate inside the enclosed container, leading to the blast. Mr Sakhrani told the court Mr Yip's ex-employer, which has been in business for more than 20 years, failed to post any warning notices before the accident highlighting the potential danger of vapour emitted by polystyrene beads and the importance of not smoking in the working area. The company has also failed to issue any guidelines in the management and employees handbooks detailing the rules of safety in inspection work. Testifying in court yesterday, Mr Yip, who joined the company in January 1997, said he had never been taught any safety measures in carrying out inspections. He said the company had at one stage instructed container drivers to dampen the polystyrene beads to make them less flammable. But he said the company later abandoned the practice after drivers complained that the measure made their cargo too heavy, the court heard. Mr Yip also denied an allegation, made by Mr Lee in a statement and repeated in court by Mr Sakhrani, that he had lit a flame when carrying out the inspection. He added that there was no ventilation in the container. The hearing continues today before Mr Justice Azizul Suffiad.