Gas build-up in oven leads to massive explosion …
A pie company based in West Yorkshire has been hit with a £250,000 fine after a gas explosion at one of their premises killed one employee and seriously injured another.
The company which is currently in administration was also asked to pay an additional £124,896 in prosection costs after the judge stated the company had “failed dismally” in its safety obligations at a hearing at York Crown Court.
The explosion occurred after the accident victim, a baker, made repeated attempts to light an oven while he was unaware that more and more gas was building up inside the cooking unit leading to the massive explosion which blew the oven door off the hinges and caused part of the roof to collapse. The 37-year-old who had worked at the company for 12 years died at the scene of the explosion while a work colleague who was nearby was badly injured in the blast.
The pie company had previously been found guilty of multiple safety breaches in Leeds Crown Court with the case being adjourned for sentencing until March in York Crown Court.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the tragedy discovered that the system of work for operating the ovens was not of a sufficiently safe standard and the bakery workers had not received the necessary training to use the ovens in a safe manner. The company also failed in their duty to deal with the threats posed by gas build-up in the direct-fired ovens and didn’t have the safety precautions in place to mitigate these threats.
The baking firm was found guilty of a breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002 a well as two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
HSE Inspector John Micklethwaite commented after the judgements had been finalised:
“The tragic death of the young man in this incident was devastating for his wife and family. I hope that the conclusion of the case will help to provide a degree of closure for his bereaved family, friends and former colleagues. The judge commented clearly that he was not at fault.
“The explosion could have been avoided if the correct lighting-up procedures had been followed. No more than two attempts to light the oven should have been made. If the oven still failed to light, engineers should have been called in.
“Large gas oven explosions are known, but rare. HSE issued a Safety Alert after this incident to similar companies asking them to check the explosion reliefs on all direct fired bakery ovens.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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