Employee’s death results in heavy fines for three companies

hseThree companies have been heavily fined and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs after a court found they were guilty of health and safety lapses which led to the death of a worker.

Crown House Technologies Ltd, Kidde Fire Protection Services Ltd and Kidde Products Ltd were each heavily fined and ordered to pay costs, the cumulative total of which reached to almost £700,000, after Mr Adam Johnston died whilst at work.

Mr Johnson, 38, was working on a construction project at Mundells, Welwyn Garden City when the accident occurred on 5 November 2008. Mr Johnson was walking across the worksite when he was struck by one of 66 cylinders filled with high-pressure gas which had ruptured and were being propelled at speeds of up to 170mph around the building he was working on. Six other workers that were working on the building were also seriously injured and suffered long-term effects resulting from the psychological injuries sustained on the day in question.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation was undertaken into the accident and this investigation recommended that a prosecution of the companies be commenced. Crown House Technologies Ltd was the principal contractor for the construction site (and Mr Johnson’s employer), Kidde Fire Protection Services Ltd had been contracted to supply and install the fire suppression equipment that had malfunctioned, and Kidde Products Ltd had carried out the work to install the fire suppression equipment.

The St Albans Crown Court heard evidence that the fire suppression equipment (80 cylinders filled with argonite) had been stored without the critical safety protection caps and had not been properly secured in their racks. The HSE investigation had found that one of the cylinders had probably been destabilised and had fallen over, shearing off its top. This had caused a chain reaction with the other cylinders and had led to Mr Johnson’s death.

Each of the companies pleaded guilty to the health and safety breaches that they were accused of. Crown House Technologies Ltd was fined £117,000 and ordered to pay £119,393.65 in costs, Kidde Fire Protection Services Ltd was fined £165,000 and ordered to pay £56,696.72 in costs and Kidde Products Ltd was fined £165,000 and ordered to pay £56,696.72 in costs.