Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
October 15, 2014


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Huge BOC Fine for Acetylene Gas Explosion


Supermarket chain Lidl was culpable of selling flammable furniture (Photo: Di’Medici under Creative Commons 3.0 Licence)

Global industrial gas supplier BOC has been ordered to pay £260,000 after an explosion at its Bristol plant left an employee with serious burns.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Alan Garton had been filling an acetylene cylinder when the acetylene became unstable. When a cylinder exploded he bore the brunt of the blast, sustaining horrific burns to his thigh, hands, groin, head and back.

The ensuing fire was allowed to burn under control for eight days before being extinguished by Avon FRS.

The blast also caused serious disruption to roads and rail services in the area before the blaze was extinguished.

BOC was fined £175,000 plus costs of £85,000 after admitting breaching s2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Lidl fined for selling flammable furniture

Discount supermarket chain Lidl pleaded guilty to selling an unsafe chair-bed that failed fire safety tests and to incorrectly labelling the furniture. It had already sold 5,400 of the products, which were subsequently recalled nationwide.

The chair-bed had been bought from a Chesterfield store by Derbyshire County Council trading standards and sent for testing. It was deemed non-compliant with the flammability requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

Lidl had already been warned by Derbyshire County Council six years ago after a similar piece of upholstered furniture also failed flammability tests.

The German chain was fined a total of £3,000 plus costs of £1,200 by Chesterfield magistrates.

Berkshire pizza firm fails to deliver fire safety

Newbury pizza delivery company ONPJ has been fined a total of £21,000 plus £7,800 costs after pleading guilty to a string of fire safety offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO).

The breaches set out at Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court included:

  • No fire protection for fire escape routes
  • Storage material within the fire escape route
  • No fire alarm system
  • Failure to carry out a fire-risk assessment
  • No firefighting equipment
  • Lack of emergency lighting.

Laundry misused fire hydrant to reduce water bills

A Cornwall laundry has been found guilty of using an unauthorised standpipe to divert water into its premises via a fire hydrant in Torpoint. It also used a large rubber washer to make a meter under-record its use of water.

Illegal use of fire hydrants can compromise fire service efforts to supplement the water supply for firefighting or to supply or refill the tank in a fire appliance. Fire hydrants must only be used for this purpose.

Located underground  UK fire hydrants are marked by yellow plates and the initials ’FH’.

Bodmin magistrates fined Tamar Laundry £750 plus £7,000 costs and ordered it to pay the maximum £5,000 in compensation for the water taken after it pleaded guilty in a case brought by South West Water.

Landlord and fire prevention company fined £40,000

A South Wales crime and fire prevention business and its landlord were together fined more than £40,000 after pleading guilty to a total of 17 breaches of the RRO.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service brought the prosecution after fire broke out in a kitchen at the company’s premises in May 2012, injuring one of the occupants of the flats above.

Alpha Crime and Fire Prevention was fined £24,000 plus £5,000 costs by Cwmbran magistrates for six breaches of the RRO. The company failed to:

  • Carry out a fire-risk assessment
  • Remove combustible material stored in a cupboard housing electrical apparatus
  • Repair holes in the ceiling between the shop and the flats
  • Protect the staircase, the only escape route for residents

Landlord Jeffrey Colin Bufton was fined £18,000 plus £5,000 costs for 11 contraventions of the RRO including failing to provide:

  • A fire-risk assessment
  • Fire detectors and alarms
  • Potection between flats and shop
  • A protected route from the flats
  • Adequate fire doors on the first floor.

Liverpool landlord found guilty of multiple RRO breaches

Liverpool magistrates fined Jeffrey Grant £1,300 with £2,300 costs after an inspection at a property he owned revealed a catalogue of fire safety contraventions including:

  • Damaged or ill-fitting fire door
  • Rubbish obstructing fire escape route
  • A water leak directly above the electrical distribution board
  • Combustible material stuffed in a hole in a wall
  • Non-functioning smoke alarms in bedrooms

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