Pie factory ordered to pay almost £375,000

Picture taken at the scene of the explosion at Andrew Jones Pies, Old Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
Picture taken at the scene of the explosion at Andrew Jones Pies, Old Leeds Road, Huddersfield.

A pie factory has been ordered to pay almost £375,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.

David Cole, 37, arrived at Andrew Jones (Pies) Ltd in Old Leeds Road, Huddersfield, at 3.30am on April 10, 2009, and tried to light the ovens ready for when other employees arrived at 5am - but after making repeated attempts to light one, gas built up inside the directly fired oven, causing the blast.

The explosion at the factory happened after Mr Cole, of Salterhebble, made apparent repeated attempts to light the oven unaware that more and more gas was building up to a critical flashpoint inside the baking chamber.

When the gas did ignite, the blast blew the large oven door off its hinges. Mr Cole who had worked at the Brighouse shop in Bethel Street, died at the scene.

Judge Guy Kearl QC told York Crown Court that the company “failed to give basic training to its employees and there was no risk assessment given to stop an employee trying to light the oven more than once”.

He said: “Employees were not made aware of the written instructions about how to operate the ovens.

“The company failed dismally and these failures substantially led to the death of Mr Cole.

“The explosion blew out the windows of the building and Mr Cole was killed in it.

“Mr Cole was not to blame and this was an ongoing situation rather than an isolated incident.”

The company was charged with three counts between April 26, 2007 and April 10, 2009, namely failing to make suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of the use of natural gas in the oven, failing to ensure adequate health and safety information and written instructions for using the oven were available to their employees, and failing to ensure employees were adequately trained in using the oven.

Judge Kearl QC fined the company £250,000 and ordered them to pay costs of £124,896.72.