Gas company fined over £150K after apprentice death

Posted 22/01/2016 by Macdonald Martin Ltd.

Categories: Uncategorised

Steve Adams, boss of Adams Home Centre, avoids jail after apprentice employee, Jarrad Swan, died when Oxygengas cylinders exploded as he was filling them.

The judge heard one of Jarrad’s colleague, Philip Wood, tried to prevent the fire spreading using a fire extinguisher, the fire was fueled by Oxygen, exploding canisters and cardboard. The second fire exit was padlocked trapping Jarred with the heat and flames. Philip shouted for someone to get the padlock key however the key was snapped. Three fire crews were called to the site to control the find the teenager, some crew members could hear banging within the container. But it was too late as Jarrad already died from burns and inhaling smoke.

Steve was told by Judge Adele Williams that it was common sense that the containers (stored together in an L shape) should have had another means of escape from the building. She added that a “catalogue of systematic failures” resulted in the teenager’s death. She gave him an eight month jail sentence, suspended for two years and the company was fined £150,000 and costs of £42,790 under the Health and Safety Act. Prosecutor, Richard Matthews QC, said “The freight container in which Jarrad was working was also used for the storage of cardboard, Christmas decorations and a number of paint spray canisters. The fire quickly spread to materials on shelves opposite, in particular pain spray containers and at least 22 exploded and burnt.” He later added “The subsequent investigation by police and the Health and Safety Executive revealed a catalogue of failings by the company and Adams, some of which directly contributed towards the teenager’s death.”

Canterbury Crown Court saw CCTV captured the incident as the teenager was doing his work “a very bright explosion” occurred as he bent down. It’s believe that the cause of the fire was spilt oil. Prashad Popat QC said the death of Jarrad Swann will haunt Steve Adams and his company, “He knows that had things been done differently, Jarrad’s death might have been avoided and he wishes to express his deepest regret and remorse for the failures which let to this tragic death.”