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Unanswered Questions For Widow Over Pharmaceutical Factory Explosion

Man Killed In Explosion At Work


The widow of a man killed by an explosion at a pharmaceutical factory has expressed her frustration at unanswered questions which still surround the accident, following an inquest into his death at High Barnet Coroner’s Court today.

David Highstead (49) of Enfield, Middlesex died following an explosion at a plant owned by pharmaceutical supply company Aesica, on 20th November 2007. He suffered serious head injuries after a 200 litre drum of carbon powder burst, and was taken to North Middlesex Hospital, where he died the following day.

Aesica, admit to acting negligently and have accepted liability for the incident. The explosion occurred when pressure levels within equipment reached critical levels without a mechanism for release. When the explosion happened Mr Highstead was covered in carbon powder.

An ongoing investigation by the Health & Safety Executive will determine whether any responsibility may lie with the equipment manufacturers in addition to Mr Highstead’s employers.

Mr Highstead’s wife Deborah said: “To go over the details of David’s death has been extremely difficult for us. I am disappointed that the inquest has left many of my questions unanswered. We need to know what could have been done to prevent David’s death, both for our own piece of mind and to ensure that this does not happen to another family. We hope that the HSE’s investigation will give us a clearer picture of what happened. We plan to make a civil claim against Aesica.” 

Joanne Jefferies from law firm Irwin Mitchell, who represented the family at the inquest, said: “Mr Highstead’s employers have admitted liability for his death. We are investigating the circumstances of this accident at work on behalf of Mrs Highstead, with a view to making a civil claim. We need to see Aesica and other manufacturers using this form of equipment take every step to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again.”