Firm Fined £2 After Fireball Death

Health and Safety Executive

05.06.2008

A company has been fined just £2 after one worker died and three were seriously injured when a fireball swept through a factory.

Christopher Knoop died and Gary Brine, Kevin Armstrong and Graham Ryder each suffered serious burns in the explosion at North West Aerosols, of Liverpool.

The company, which has since gone into voluntary liquidation, was charged for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees when liquid petroleum gas exploded at the site in Aintree.

Liverpool Crown Court Judge Graham Morrow said had the company not been in liquidation he would have been considering a fine in the region of £250,000, but had to take into account the company's financial position. The company were fined a total of £2 with £1 costs.

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Keith Morris said: "The sad circumstances of this incident should remind the whole chemical industry to ensure they have clear and accurate procedures that cover all aspects of plant operation. All employees must be properly trained and supervised for their work. Had the company done this then Chris Knoop would not have died and Gary Brine, Kevin Armstrong and Graham Ryder, would not have been seriously injured."

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "As this tragic case demonstrates, industrial accidents involving explosive substances can and often do lead to serious or fatal injuries to workers or local residents.

"Employers need to ensure that workers are properly trained and supervised if accidents at work are to be avoided.

"Explosions often affect not only the safety of workers but that of local residents.

"I have represented many workers and local residents who have suffered injuries following explosion related industrial accidents."

Mr Urpeth represented over 75 workers and many residents who were injured in the 2001 blast at the Killingholme refinery when over 170 tonnes of liquid petroleum gas caught fire. Conoco-Phillips, who owned the plant, was eventually fined £1m for breaching health and safety regulations after the explosion at its Humber refinery.