A horticultural company have been fined after one worker died and three others were seriously injured following an explosion at a nursery at Bradon Farm, Isle Abbots. The explosion happened while emptying a pressurized tank used to heat greenhouses.
Taunton Crown Court heard that two workers were asked to unbolt the hatch cover from a pressure vessel while there was still pressure in the system. This resulted in a huge release of pressure which sent the hatch cover flying across the room followed by a large jet of water that swept everyone off of their feet.
Peter James, 67, of Crewkerne died of head injuries six days after the incident and three other men standing nearby suffered severe injuries. 29 year old Arek Kuchczynski was unconscious for two weeks and remained in hospital for many months following the incident. He suffered from injuries to both his head and skull and damage to his forearm which required three operations and a skin graft.
No training or supervision
The Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the work was not properly planned, the workers were not properly trained for the activity and they did not receive supervision. At least one of the men spoke very little English which made it difficult to understand instructions.
Mr James’ employer – Cantelo Nurseries Ltd – was prosecuted at Taunton Crown Court on 24th October after they pleaded guilty to two breaches of health and safety legislation. They were fined a total of £80,000 and ordered to pay £59.812 in costs.
HSE Inspector Christine Haberfield said after the hearing: “This tragic incident has cost one man his life and changed the lives of many other people forever. There were simple, sensible and proportionate steps such as releasing the pressure in the tanks, that could- and should- have been taken to do the work safely.”