Northampton

Carlsberg brewery inquest: Risks 'not assessed' at blast site

David and Laura Chandler Image copyright Laura Chandler
Image caption Colleagues of David Chandler, pictured with his wife Laura, said he would have "walked off the job" if he had known he was working near ammonia

An engineer who died in an ammonia leak at a brewery was killed because the isolation of the gas had not been properly assessed, an inquest heard.

David Chandler, 45, from Bridgnorth, Shropshire, died at the Carlsberg plant in Northampton on 9 November 2016.

Ian Swann, project engineering manager at the brewery at the time, said Carlsberg had not carried out a risk assessment on the isolation.

Asked if Mr Chandler had died as a result, he said "yes".

Last week, the inquest heard Mr Chandler had been employed as a sub-contractor to remove a dormant compressor unit.

His colleague Stuart Wright said "grey and white smoke" had burst out of a valve in pipework surrounding the compressor following a "massive explosion".

Mr Chandler was killed "almost instantly".

Image copyright Geograph/Oast House Archive
Image caption The Carlsberg brewery was closed following the ammonia leak in November 2016

On Tuesday, Mr Swann said Carlsberg had not carried out its own tests on the compressor unit to make sure it was safe.

He also admitted he had not signed a risk assessment form which had been used to give Crowley Carbon permission to work on the unit.

Asked why, he said: "I honestly don't know."

Mr Swann also said a technique known as double block and bleed should have been used to isolate the ammonia in the compressor.

Under cross-examination from the Chandler family's lawyer, Karl Hirst, Mr Swann said "looking back" that method should have been used.

He also told the jury Carlsberg had not conducted a formal risk assessment specifically into the isolation of the ammonia.

Mr Hirst said "no-one at Carlsberg knew if the unit was safe because you hadn't done a risk assessment," adding "Carlsberg should have assessed the isolation before letting any contractor there".

Mr Swann agreed with both of these statements.

Finally, Mr Hirst said: "Because Carlsberg didn't do that essentially Mr Chandler died as a result?"

"Yes," said Mr Swann.

The inquest continues.

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