Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Lack of Safety Checks Led to Gas Explosion
Posted by David Cant on February 21, 2012

The gas explosion which occurred in April 2008 led to the managing director of North West Gases Ltd being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive. On the day of the accident the managing director, John Webster, and one of his employees were working at the premises of the North West Gases in St Helens. Both men suffered terrible burns and the HSE soon discovered that the accident could have been avoided.

While trying to remove a valve on a liquefied petroleum cylinder some of the gas escaped. As a result of failing to check whether the area was safe and that there were no sources of ignition present, the leaked gas caught alight. This resulted in a powerful explosion which caused the roof to lift off and forced the employee across the room with the force.  The company directors’ clothes caught on fire and both men had to be taken to a specialist burns unit to be treated.

In addition to the burns the employee who has asked not to be named has since suffered from traumatic stress disorder.  There was also another injured party as another employee was also injured as he worked outside the building where the explosion went off.

Fine for the Director

When the HSE investigated they discovered that even the most basic of safety checks had not been performed before the two men began working on the gas cylinders. The inspector who spoke at the court case went on to say that this was an accident which was entirely preventable. It was only a case of good luck that no one was more seriously harmed or killed in this gas explosion.

Mr Webster’s trial took place at Liverpool Crown Court. The director was found to be guilty after he failed to protect both himself and his employees. He was subsequently fined £22,500 and has also been ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution which come to £2,500.

Perform Regular Safety Checks and Risk Assessments

In cases like these it is clear to see that simple errors in procedure and even judgement can lead to awful accidents. Health and safety services are able to help you to put in place good procedures which not only protect you and our workers from injuries, they can also help to protect you from prosecution.

The health and safety consultants offer many services which can help with the production of fire risk assessments as well as training. It is important to know what legislations and regulations need to be followed and also to learn how to put health and safety into practice. Fire risk assessments are a necessary requirement of The Fire Safety Order 2005 –UK Fire Regulations. If you do not comply with this order you could face prosecution or even be sent to jail so it is important to make sure you carry out this task.

Call 0800 1488 677 to find out about health and safety services and provide a safe working environment for your employees, the public and yourself.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Fire Risk Assessments, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Safety

Follow all of the latest Veritas Consulting news on our RSS feed

Twitter: Veritas_Tweets