Andrew Jones Pies has been fined a total of £375k, after being found guilty of health and safety breaches, following the death of an employee in a gas explosion at its factory.
The Huddersfield firm, which is currently in administration, was fined £250,000 for safety offences, and ordered pay £124,896 in costs, by the judge at York Crown Court.
On 10 April 2009, 37-year-old baker David Cole was killed instantly after an explosion caused part of the roof to fall at the factory in Huddersfield, starting a fire. Another worker was also seriously injured.
The judge said the company has “failed dismally” and although he understood the company was not in a position to pay the fines and costs, his judgement reflected the level of failings by the company, according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
The explosion at Andrew Jones Pies in Old Leeds Road, Huddersfield, happened after baker David Cole made apparent repeated attempts to light the 30-year-old oven, unaware that more and more gas was building up to a critical flashpoint inside the baking chamber.
The blast blew the oven door off its hinges, and part of the roof of the factory collapsed.
The HSE found the company’s procedures for operating the ovens were inadequate and informal, and sufficient instructions for using them had not been given.
It was also discovered that an explosion relief panel on the back of the oven, which should have safely vented excess pressure, had at some time been rigidly fixed in place, but this may have pre-dated the firm’s ownership of the ovens.
Andrew Jones Pies, now registered with the administrator in Ossett, near Wakefield, was found guilty of a breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002 between 26 April 2007 and 10 April 2009.
The firm was also found guilty of two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 between the same dates.