Death of 45-year-old man in ammonia leak at Northampton's Carlsberg factory was accidental, inquest rules

David Chandler, 45, was accidentally killed in an ammonia while working as a contractor at Northampton's Carlsberg factory in 2016.
David Chandler, 45, was accidentally killed in an ammonia while working as a contractor at Northampton's Carlsberg factory in 2016.

The widow of an engineer who died in a gas leak at the Carlsberg factory in Northampton has called on the brewing giant to ensure health and safety standards are improved following an inquest into her husband’s death.

David Chandler, 45, from Shropshire, was working at the firm’s site in November 2016 when an ammonia pipe leaked "right into his face", killing him almost instantly.

This yellow pipe of ammonia leaked when a valve failed. David was standing behind this valve and was killed almost instantly in the incident.

This yellow pipe of ammonia leaked when a valve failed. David was standing behind this valve and was killed almost instantly in the incident.

Today, an inquest jury has reached a conclusion of accidental death but also concluded that the ammonia leak - and therefore David's death - was preventable.

Speaking after the hearing, David's widow Laura, 33, said: “While our family has received some of the answers to the questions we have, listening to the details of how and why David died has been devastating beyond belief.

“During the course of the inquest it became abundantly clear that there were numerous opportunities to prevent the incident which robbed me of my husband and [our two daughters] of their daddy.

“Although David is no longer with us he will always be part our family. Isabella and Ava will grow up knowing how much he loved them and how his family meant the world to him.

David with his wife, Laura. She said hearing the details of David's death has been "beyond devastating".

David with his wife, Laura. She said hearing the details of David's death has been "beyond devastating".

“Our family would like to thank the emergency services for everything they did that day... and David’s colleagues who were working with him. They showed great bravery in giving evidence during the inquest, reliving what must have been a terrifying experience which lives with them to this day.”

Laura has now called on Carlsberg to ensure it takes further steps to improve health and safety at the brewery.

A spokeswoman from Laura's legal team from Irwin Mitchell said "Carlsberg could and should have done far more to ensure that the ammonia leak did not occur" and that "basic health and safety standards were ignored".

During the inquest, former engineering manager for Carlsberg Ian Swann told the jury he agreed that failings on the brewer's part to check the ammonia pipe led to David's death.

A risk assessment had not been carried out on an isolation valve before the explosion, Northampton Coroner’s Court was told.

A total of 22 people; including 11 factory staff, two police officers, and nine firefighters were taken to hospital following the incident.

A spokesman for Carlsberg UK said: First and foremost, the thoughts and deepest sympathies of everyone at Carlsberg UK are with David Chandler’s family and friends at the conclusion of this inquest. The tragic events of 9 November 2016 left a deep mark on many people that day, but we recognise that nothing compares with the permanent impact on the family and friends of David Chandler, who were affected so tragically.

"The well-being of everyone who works in and around our business is always uppermost in our minds, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure their safety.

"We note and respect the jury's conclusion, and have fully co-operated with the relevant authorities leading up to this inquest.

"In view of any potential ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate for us to provide any further comment at this time."