Gas leak death deemed accidental but preventable

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

The death of David Chandler at Carlsberg’s Northampton Brewery has been deemed accidental but preventable
The death of David Chandler at Carlsberg’s Northampton Brewery has been deemed accidental but preventable
A gas leak at Carlsberg’s Northampton Brewery that left one man dead has been judged accidental but preventable, following an inquest into his death this week.

An inquest jury reached the conclusion on Tuesday (2 July) after an eight-day trial into the ammonia leak, which left 22 people hospitalised.

The inquest was told how David Chandler was helping to remove a dormant compressor unit on 9 November 2016, when a disconnected valve blew and filled the room with ammonia. Chandler went into 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.

Should have done more

The lawyer for the deceased’s family Hilary Wetherell, partner at solicitor Irwinmitchell, said that it had become apparent during the course of the inquest that Carlsberg could and should have done more to prevent the leak.

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

“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.”

HSE prosecution

Wetherell expected a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution would follow and urged those involved to ensure the evidence heard at the past week’s inquest be given priority.

Commenting on the inquest, a Carlsberg spokesman said: “The well-being of everyone who works in and around our business is always uppermost in our minds, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure their safety.

“We note and respect the jury's conclusion, and have fully co-operated with the relevant authorities leading up to this inquest.”

The brewer was served an improvement notice by the HSE, which said the company had not made suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of dangerous refrigerant gases.

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