The operator of the Cotswold Airfield has been fined for safety failings after an experienced fire-fighter was killed whilst moving a pressurised gas cylinder.
The worker was employed by the airfield as a Station Officer at the airfield. He was also a retained fire-fighter with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service. He died in 2011 during work to clear out a number of disused shipping containers that were being prepared for use as a training facility for the airfield.
As part of the process, a number of redundant gas cylinders, which were formerly part of a fire suppression system, needed to be removed. The worker was attempting to move a large freestanding cylinder weighing 65kg when the gas in the cylinder discharged very rapidly. This caused the cylinder to spin round violently striking him on his head and body leaving him with fatal injuries.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the circumstances of his death and identified that there was no assessment or consideration of the risk by the employer with regards to how the fire suppression system would be decommissioned safely.
The cylinders had been removed from the containers on the previous day by a number of fire-fighters from the Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service under the direction of the worker, so they had also been subject to the same risks from the cylinders.
The Court was told that had the removal work been suitably assessed and managed, the incident could have been avoided.
The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £98,000 in costs after being found guilty of two breaches of Regulation 3(1) of the management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.