The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a Halifax gas servicing firm for safety failings following an explosion in the boiler room of a local primary school.
The explosion happened the day before children returned to Greetland Academy after the summer holidays in September 2011. It blew out the boiler house door towards a paved area and the school playing field.
Two local neighbours in School Street heard the explosion and rushed to the school where teaching staff were taking part in a training day. Fortunately there were no injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was notified and discovered Marshall Gas Services Ltd, based in Greetland, had been on site that day to service three boilers and other gas appliances. The company had held a contract to carry out annual inspections and services there for at least ten years.
On 8th June, following an investigation, HSE prosecuted the company at Halifax Magistrates’ Court. It found that despite the servicing contract, the boiler showed all the classic signs of poor maintenance, including excessive rust and debris, and had become increasingly dangerous.
The court heard that on inspection by HSE gas specialists, the burners produced a significant amount of internal corrosion and the gas injectors were very dirty, which significantly reduced the aperture size.
The restricted gas injectors prevented sufficient gas getting to some of the burners to allow them to be cross-lit when turned on. Unburned gas then passed into a combustion chamber and created an explosive atmosphere.
HSE’s investigation showed the build-up of debris and the partial blockage of the injectors would have occurred gradually over a period of time, and that the levels in the boiler were not consistent with a regular annual service regime.
Marshall Gas Services was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £35,699 in costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
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