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Ammonia death accidental but preventable

UK: The death of David Chandler at the Carlsberg brewery in Northampton in 2016 was accidental, but the ammonia refrigerant leak which killed him was preventable, an inquest has decided.

At the conclusion of the eight-day inquest, David Chandler’s widow, Laura, called on the brewing giant to ensure health and safety standards are improved. The family’s lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, said it expected an HSE prosecution to follow.

David, of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, who was employed by Speedrite, was contracted to work at the Carlsberg brewery. He was helping to remove a dormant compressor unit on 9 November, 2016, when a disconnected valve blew, engulfing the room in ammonia.

The inquest was told that David would have gone in to respiratory arrest and quickly passed out.

Jamie Davies from the HSE told the inquest he found an isolation valve in the pipework had not been closed at the time of the leak. A risk assessment had not been carried out on the isolation valve before the explosion, Northampton Coroner’s Court was told.

“During the course of the inquest it became apparent that Carlsberg could and should have done far more to ensure that the ammonia leak did not occur and therefore that David and those with him were not exposed to such appalling risk,” said solicitor Hilary Wetherell. “We have heard that basic health and safety standards were ignored, on this occasion with the ultimate price being paid.

“We expect an HSE prosecution to follow and urge those involved in that process to ensure that the evidence heard at the inquest is given the utmost priority,” she added.

A total of 22 people, including 11 factory staff, two police officers, and nine firefighters were taken to hospital following the incident.

Related stories:

Engineer died instantly in ammonia leak20 June 2018
UK: Engineer David Chandler was said to have died instantly when a ­“great blue cloud” of ammonia refrigerant hit him in the face, the inquest into his death has heard. Read more…

HSE hits Carlsberg with Improvement Notice28 June 2017
UK: Carlsberg’s Northampton brewery, scene of the fatal ammonia refrigeration leak in November last year, has been issued with an Improvement Notice by the HSE. Read more…

Fridge plant suspect in fatal ammonia leak10 November 2016
UK: Investigators have so far refused to confirm or deny whether the refrigeration system was the source of yesterday’s fatal ammonia leak at the Carlsberg brewery in Northampton. Read more…

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