The owner of a pallet manufacturing firm has appeared in court after he allowed fires to be repeatedly lit at his premises next to gas storage sites in Carlisle. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted George Ward after he ignored warnings about lighting fires at Brampton Pallets, which borders two Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage sites.
Carlisle Magistrates' Court heard HSE first issued Mr Ward with a Prohibition Notice in December 2007, preventing wood being burnt in an open metal drum at the site on Willowholme Industrial Estate. Mr Ward signed a letter in April 2009 which prescribed how fires could be safely lit and controlled at Brampton Pallets, after HSE received another complaint about fires at the site. But a further complaint was made in 2011 and, when two HSE inspectors visited the site on 10 March, they witnessed another unsuitably controlled fire.
George Ward, of Rockcliffe in Carlisle, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure people were not exposed to risks to their safety. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,687 in prosecution costs on 28 March 2012.
Speaking after the hearing, Steven Boyd, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:
"Mr Ward was given several chances to comply with the law but after repeatedly ignoring our advice, a prosecution was inevitable. By allowing unsuitably controlled fires to be burnt at Brampton Pallets, he risked a spark from the fires causing a serious fire or explosion at the gas storage sites next to his business. If this had happened then it had to the potential to cause multiple deaths or serious injuries."
More information on lighting controlled fires and preventing explosions is available at www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion.