'Flying gas cylinder' firms fined over death and injuries

Three firms must pay nearly £700,000 in fines and court costs over the death of a plumber and injuries to six building workers hit by "flying gas cylinders".

The cylinder hit Adam Johnston, 38, from Surrey, on a site in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, in 2008.

St Albans Crown Court heard a loose cylinder toppled and its valve broke.

Crown House Technologies from Kent, Kidde Fire Protection Service and Kidde Products, both from Berkshire, all admitted health and safety breaches.

The first cylinder to tumble was powered by discharging high-pressure gas. It collided with several others to set off a chain reaction, the court heard.

'Unsafe practices'

Mr Johnston, a father of two, was walking with a colleague when he was struck and suffered multiple injuries, dying at the scene.

Six other workers, including electricians working in the argon gas store room, suffered injuries and long term effects.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the death of Mr Johnston on 5 November, 2008 uncovered a series of unsafe practices.

Crown House Technologies Ltd, of Dartford, was principal contractor and engaged Kidde Fire Protection Services Ltd, of Slough, Berkshire, to supply and install fire suppression equipment. This work was carried out by Kidde Products Ltd, also from Slough.

All three companies were prosecuted for safety breaches over 80 large heavy cylinders stored without safety protection caps and left unsecured in racks.

Crown House Technologies was fined £117,000 with £119,393 costs, Kidde Fire Protection Services and Kidde Products were each fined £165,000 with £59,696 costs.

The court was told the three companies failed to recognise hazards or to carry out an adequate risk assessment.

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