A catering supply company has been fined after three people were seriously injured in a gas explosion at a hotel.
Aberdeen-based Instant Catering Maintenance Ltd was employed by the Drumtochty Arms in Auchenblae to design and install a new ground floor kitchen to contain three appliances – hotplate range, four ring hob and a freestanding chargrill – that would be fuelled by propane.
During the installation process, however, there was a large build-up of gas in the kitchen followed by a powerful blast.
Barmaid Danielle Ormond, worker Neil Coffield and customer James Guthrie were all caught in the explosion on 7 January 2009.
A substantial part of the building near the kitchen collapsed as a result of the incident. The damage was deemed unrepairable and Aberdeenshire Council later ordered the entire hotel to be demolished.
Ms Ormond was passing through the kitchen, where Mr Coffield was purging the gas system, when she noticed a strong smell of gas. Moments later the explosion occurred.
Mr Guthrie was in the courtyard outside the kitchen door smoking a cigarette at the time.
A Health and Safety Executive investigation revealed the system had not been designed with a suitable purging point, while Mr Coffield was not provided with a flare stack to safely dispel the released gas.
All gas appliances should have regulators to ensure correct pressure and for use on a propane-fuelled appliance they should be suitably converted.
Instant Catering Maintenance Limited of Union Street, Aberdeen, was fined £7,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
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Date Published: June 27, 2014
Author: David Brown