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Aberdeen company in court after hotel gas explosion

A catering supply company from Aberdeen has been in court after three people were seriously injured in a gas explosion in a hotel kitchen.

What happened?

The three individuals; a customer, a bar maid and a member of staff, were caught in a blast which happened as work was underway on the premises’ gas system.

Instant Catering Maintenance Ltd (ICM) had been employed to design and install a new ground floor kitchen, containing a hotplate range, a four ring hob and a freestanding chargrill – each fuelled by propane.

Danielle Ormond, a member of the bar staff, was investigating a complaint about the beer in the cellar. As she passed through the kitchen, where ICM employee Neil Coffield was purging the gas system, she noticed a very strong smell of gas.

The explosion occurred just a few moments later, causing injuries to Ms Ormond and Mr Coffield, as well as a customer, James Guthrie, who was outside the kitchen door.

A substantial part of the building collapsed immediately as a result of the explosion, leaving it unsafe for an investigation to take place and leading to an emergency demolition order by Aberdeenshire Council.

The court heard that a steel manifold had been installed to supply propane gas to appliances, but it had not been fitted with an adequate facility to allow for safe purging of the system – which would have prevented gas build-up to dangerous levels.

An examination of the recovered appliances found that a regulator, used to ensure correct pressure, had not been fitted onto the chargrill. Additionally, the regulators on the hotplate and hob were found to have been attached the wrong way round and set for natural gas rather than propane.

What was the outcome?

Instant Catering Maintenance Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £7,500.

HSE inspector, Niall Miller, said:

“This was an entirely avoidable, very serious incident resulting in
significant injuries to three people and the
demolition of a building.

“The risks of purging an LPG gas system without using the appropriate
equipment are well known and it is clearly stated in industry
guidance that flare stacks should be used when dealing
with gases heavier than air, such as propane.

“In addition, purging a system of this type should be carried
out by two people to ensure safety.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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