Asbestos Business Sanctioned For Explosion

| General

In mid-January 2023, the Health and Safety Executive handed down a financial sanction in the form of an eighty thousand pounds fine in connection with an incident in which a surveyor was involved in an electrical fire which resulted in a fire which sadly proved fatal.         

What Happened In The Case?

The project was seemingly proceeding correctly and without much by way of incident. On 10th December 2020, the surveyor was positioned in the offices of an energy business and was conducting a routine regulatory survey and an inspection on an electric panel.      

Turn For the Worse

All appeared to have been progressing well and without incident until the figurative regulatory winds of change appears to have swept through and quickly gone downhill when there was an explosion appearing on the evidence to have involved the electric panel being examined by the surveyor. As a direct result of the incident, he appears to have sustained burn-related injuries to thirty-three percent of his body. The explosion caused significant damage to his hands, body, facial features, and arm. The surveyor fought hard resisting the injuries for approximately twelve weeks. However, sadly he lost his fight for life after this period when his condition deteriorated when he contracted sepsis and infection. 

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

The HSE examined the circumstances in this case and when it reviewed the evidence it made several discoveries, including but not limited to the following: 

  • it appeared heavily criticise the working conditions the surveyor was employed to carry out his surveying service in
  • it did not seem to be in the correct state to carry out the work-related activities
  • no warning labels were demonstrating that the live switch panel equipment had electricity flowing through it
  • it seems like there were no signs alerting persons working in the environment to electrical hazards in the space between the shop premises and the switch room
  • observations were also made that the door located on the insider section of the premises was absent
  • the regulator found that the Energy company had a duty of care towards the surveyor
  • the business had fallen short of the required standards and  
  • there was a causal relationship between the failings and the resulting explosion.   

Feet to the Fire?

Due to the seriousness of the incident which had taken place, involving the surveyor the energy business found itself facing criminal court proceedings. When the evidence was put in front of it, the Sheriff’s Court openly admitted to charges of infringing section 3(1) and Section 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The energy business was under legal and regulatory obligations under section 3 of the 1974 Act to operate in a manner that ensures that persons who are not employed by the business and may be impacted by its activity are not put in danger in terms of health and safety. Section 33 also equated to a criminal offense if not complying with this legal obligation. As a direct result of the business dropping short in terms of its regulatory obligations, the regulator handed down a sanction of around eighty thousand pounds.

Lessons Learned?

Those responsible for ensuring the health and safety of similar workplaces should be advised by their lawyers to reduce the risk of explosions happening and regulator action by adhering to Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:

  • implementing compliant oversight mechanisms
  • acting cautiously 
  • putting in place processes and procedures and
  • ensuring high standards are upheld. 


#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP #RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP


[SOURCE 1] Construction Index – Company fined after surveyor dies – Construction Index - Company fined after surveyor dies (

[SOURCE 2] Section 3(1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

[SOURCE 3] Section 33(1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974



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