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Inquest Jury Concludes Carlsberg Ammonia Leak Was Preventable

Calls For Employers to Uphold Health And Safety Standards

02.07.2018

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The widow of an engineer who died in a gas leak at a Carlsberg factory has called on the brewing giant to ensure health and safety standards are improved following an inquest into her husband’s death.

David Chandler, 45, was working at the firm’s site in Northampton in November, 2016, when he was exposed to ammonia.

Today, after eight days, an inquest jury has reached a conclusion of accidental death but also concluded that the ammonia leak was preventable.  Therefore, David’s death was preventable. 

Following his death David’s wife Laura, 33, instructed specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate the incident.

Laura and her legal team at Irwin Mitchell have now called on Carlsberg to learn from this tragedy and ensure it takes further steps to improve health and safety at the brewery.

Expert Opinion
The last eight days have been extremely distressing for Laura and the rest of the family. They have shown great strength and dignity listening to the circumstances in which David died so needlessly.

“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. We have heard that basic health and safety standards were ignored, on this occasion with the ultimate price being paid.

“Since the incident, some steps have been taken to improve the systems in place. Sadly this is too late for David. No-one should have to endure the devastation and heartache that Laura, her daughters and the wider family continue to experience.

“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.”
Hilary Wetherell, Partner

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.

A risk assessment had not been carried out on an isolation valve before the explosion, Northampton Coroner’s Court was told.

Assistant Coroner Dr Philip Barlow said a post-mortem examination concluded that David died from inhalation of ammonia.

David and Laura had two daughters Ava, seven, and three-year-old Isabella.

Speaking after the hearing Laura said: “While our family has received some of the answers to the questions we have, listening to the details of how and why David died has been devastating beyond belief.

“During the course of the inquest it became abundantly clear that there were numerous opportunities to prevent the incident which robbed me of my husband and Ava and Isabella of their daddy. The jury concluded that the leak was preventable and therefore so was David’s death.

“Although David is no longer with us he will always be part our family. Isabella and Ava will grow up knowing how much he loved them and how his family meant the world to him.

“We have today concluded another crucial process in this nightmare.  I now urge the HSE to expedite its prosecution to enable us to continue to attempt to rebuild our lives.

“Our family would like to thank the emergency services for everything they did that day. We would also like to thank the Assistant Coroner Dr Barlow for the care, compassion and understanding that he has shown during the inquest. We also want to thank David’s colleagues who were working with him. They showed great bravery in giving evidence during the inquest, reliving what must have been a terrifying experience which lives with them to this day.”

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

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