Carlsberg will be prosecuted over dad-of-two's death in ammonia leak at Northampton brewery

Carlsberg will be taken to court under health and safety laws after a dad-of-two was killed in an ammonia leak at its Northampton factory.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:54 am
David Chandler, 45, from Shropshire,was killed by an ammonia leak. He was married and had two daughters.

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

In 2018, an inquest jury ruled that David's death was accidental - but also concluded that the ammonia leak, and therefore the 45-year-old's death, was preventable.

Now, the brewer and the contractor hired to remove the compressor connected to the ammonia pipe - Crowley Carbon UK Ltd - have been charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act and will be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

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David Chandler's death at the Carlsberg factory in Bridge Street was ruled as "accidental" by an inquest jury.

A hearing is to be held at Birmingham magistrates' court on March 6.

The accident happened after a risk assessment was not carried out on an isolation valve on a compressor that was set to be removed.

Mr Chandler, who was married and had two daughters, was standing behind the valve on the compressor when ammonia "exploded" out in a large cloud of grey-white smoke.

Speaking after the hearing, David's widow Laura, 33, said: "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.

David was standing behind this yellow valve when the ammonia leak sprung.

“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.

“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.”

The inquest heard how a standard technique known as a double-block-and-bleed should have been carried out to make sure the pipe was empty of ammonia.

During the inquest in July 2018, 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.

And speaking after the ruling, 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".

Carlsberg Supply Company UK Ltd will face charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Crowley Carbon UK Ltd, of Marlow, Buckinghamshire will face charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.