Ordered to pay £140,000 in fines and costs
An Edgware gas company has been fined after an explosion killed a worker and severely injured a member of the public.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Oak Farm Gas Company Ltd, (trading as Mr Fizz), after the incident at a site in New Denham, Buckinghamshire.
The gas firm specialises in the supply of high-pressure carbon dioxide, nitrogen and gas mixtures for licensed trade drink dispensers.
Uxbridge Magistrates' Court heard that Kerry Daly, 21, of Uxbridge in Hillingdon, was employed at Mr Fizz solely to fill empty gas cylinders with various types of pure and mixed gas. The high-pressure cylinders were normally brought to the workshop from customers' premises.
On the 19 June 2009, Maurice Kelly, a 45 year-old driver from Ealing brought a gas cylinder to Mr Daly from a pub in East London. As the valve fittings on the cylinder did not match those on the high pressure filling station, Mr Daly, who was working alone in the workshop, phoned a colleague to ask his advice.
Though Mr Daly was advised not to fill the cylinder he still attempted to do so and the cylinder exploded. Mr Daly was severely injured and died later that evening from his injuries. Mr Kelly had his leg amputated below the knee and suffered injuries resulting in him losing some function in both hands.
The HSE investigation showed the equipment at Mr Fizz's workshop was totally unsuitable for filling a low pressure gas cylinder. Mr Daly's training consisted solely of verbal instruction and there was no documentation of this, nor any written risk assessments.
HSE's Inspector Will Pascoe said:
"This incident was completely preventable. If sufficient training and instruction had been given then Kerry Daly's death would not have happened and Maurice Kelly would not have suffered life-changing injuries.
"Anyone who examines, refurbishes, fills or uses a gas cylinder should be suitably trained and have the necessary skills to carry out their job safely. Employees should understand the risks associated with the energy stored in high pressure gas cylinders and this incident should serve as a reminder of the dangers that this may pose."
Oak Farm Gas Company Ltd, trading as Mr Fizz, of Trinominis House, 125 -129 High Street, Edgware, Harrow pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and regulations 4(3) and 8(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.
HSE News 17 June 2011, release number COISE/1706