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Airfield operator fined after death of fire-fighter

The Cotswold Airfield operator has been fined after an experienced fire-fighter was killed by a pressurised gas cylinder.

What happened?

Steven Mills, who was a Station Officer at the airfield, as well as a retained fire-fighter with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, was clearing a number of disused shipping containers that were being prepared to be used as a training facility for the airfield.

As part of the task, the 45-year-old was required to remove a number of redundant gas cylinders, which were formerly part of a fire suppression system.

While doing this, the gas from a large freestanding cylinder weighing 65kg discharged rapidly, causing the cylinder to spin round violently and strike Mr Mills on his head and body.

Mr Mills was left with fatal injuries, and an investigation into the incident found that, not only had a number of other employees been subject to the same risks from the cylinders, had the removal work been suitably assessed and managed the incident could have been avoided.

What was the outcome?

Kemble Air Services LTD was found guilty of two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay £98,000

Ian Whittles, an Inspector for the HSE, said:

“Kemble Air Services failed to ensure the safety of its employees and others
who were carrying out work to decommission fire suppression systems.

“This incident could have been prevented if Kemble Air Services had the appropriate
oversight and control of the project to develop the training facility.

“They should have ensured that the work was suitably planned following a full
assessment of the risks associated with the work. Sadly their failing
to suitably assess the risks and implement the necessary
controls led to the death of Mr Mills.”

If you, or someone you know, 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

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