Father-of-two David Chandler, 45, was killed and David Beak, now 57, was seriously injured during the leak in November 2016.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that the brewer had failed to put in place appropriate isolation controls to prevent exposure to ammonia before work started to remove a compressor from a refrigeration system.
The incident left 20 people hospitalised after showing symptoms of ammonia exposure and it was several days before the leak was contained and gas levels dropped to a safe level.
AN investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Carlsberg had not put proper controls in place. An inquest into the death of Mr Chandler judged that the leak was accidental but preventable.
Carlsberg Supply Company UK Ltd, who were summonsed under their new company name of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, pleaded guilty to charges under Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was fined £3m with costs of £90,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Samantha Wells said: “Both the client, Carlsberg, and the Principal Contractor should have worked together to ensure that the risk was adequately managed. Not only Carlsberg had a duty here. There was also a very clear duty on the Principal Contractor.
“This underlines the dangers of not following industry guidance when working with toxic and flammable substances – HSE will take action against all who fail to ensure the safety of employees and others who may be exposed to danger.”
HSE also brought a case against Crowley Carbon Ltd – the principal contractor involved in this case – in relation to the incident which led to the death of Mr Chandler and the injuries to Mr Beak. However, the company being placed into compulsory administration by creditors has hampered proceedings.
Paul Davies, chief executive of Carlsberg Supply Company UK Limited (now called CMBC Supply Limited) said: "We deeply regret the tragic incident which occurred at our Northampton Brewery in November 2016 and resulted in the death of David Chandler and injury to David Beak. Our thoughts to this day remain with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved.
"We strive to attain and maintain the highest standards of health and safety management for our employees. Through our guilty plea to the charges and much earlier acceptance of responsibility, we recognise that on this occasion we did not meet these high standards. All remedial measures have since been taken and lessons learnt. As a company we will continue to put health and safety at the forefront of how we operate."