Judge fines fatal blast pie company
A company has been ordered to pay nearly £375,000 after a baker died in a gas explosion at a pie factory, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said.
David Cole, 37, was killed when an industrial bakery oven exploded at Andrew Jones Pies, in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in 2009. The firm was found guilty of safety breaches after a trial at Leeds Crown Court last month.
The company, which is now in administration, has been fined £250,000 and told to pay £124,896 costs. Judge Guy Kearl QC, passing the sentence at York Crown Court, told the firm it had "failed dismally".
The explosion happened after Mr Cole, who had worked for Andrew Jones for 12 years, made repeated attempts to light the 30-year-old oven, causing a flammable mix of gas and air to build up inside the baking chamber.
When the gas ignited, the blast blew the large oven door off its hinges. Father-of-two Mr Cole, of Salterhebble, Halifax, was hit by the door and then trapped when part of the roof collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Another employee, Marcus Cartwright, of Crossland Moor, Huddersfield, was badly injured and five other men suffered minor injuries. More than 40 firefighters were called to the explosion, which happened at about 5am on April 10, 2009.
An HSE investigation found that workers had not been given enough training in the use of the ovens and the company failed to appreciate the hazards posed by repeated unsuccessful attempts to fire them up.
An explosion relief panel on the back of the oven, which should have safely vented excess pressure, had been rigidly fixed in place but the modification could have pre-dated the firm's ownership of the equipment, the HSE said.
The firm, based in Old Leeds Road, was found guilty of a breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
John Micklethwaite, an HSE inspector, said: "The tragic death of Mr Cole 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 David's bereaved family, friends and former colleagues. The judge commented clearly that David was not at fault."