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Decapitation of man not a health and safety breach

PUBLISHED: 13:56 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 July 2010

THE reason a maintenance engineer died during an explosion at a bakery was not caused by breaches to Health and Safety regulations, a judge has ruled. The company that employed 31-year-old Marcus Ferreira and the owners of the bakers, Greggs PLC both adm

THE reason a maintenance engineer died during an explosion at a bakery was not caused by breaches to Health and Safety regulations, a judge has ruled.

The company that employed 31-year-old Marcus Ferreira and the owners of the bakers, Greggs PLC both admitted two charges of breaching their Health and Safety duties and were fined and ordered to pay costs.

But Judge Daniel Serota QC said at Luton Crown Court last Friday: "It must be clearly understood that the breaches were not the causation of the tragic accident."

He said for some 'inexplicable reason' Mr Ferreira from Orpington had 'breached the most basic of safety precautions.'

He said he was a competent and capable refrigeration engineer adding: "It is impossible to know why he acted as he did."

He had been hearing evidence over a number of days before making his ruling. The court heard that on June 23, 2004 Mr Ferreira was employed by D & P Catering Equipment Ltd, having only worked for them for a few weeks.

He and an apprentice were sent to Greggs in Stevenage Town Square to investigate why the temperature in a refrigeration unit was too high.

A leak was suspected and he correctly decided to test it by applying a high pressure stream of nitrogen gas to the system and listen for the hiss.

To do this he was standing on a ladder looking into the system and applied four times the maximum recommended pressure. It caused a compressor to explode and Mr Ferreira was partially decapitated and died. The companies pleaded guilty to the Health and Safety charges but did not accept the accident was caused by the breaches, which led to the need for the Judge to make a ruling.

The company, with a head office in Jesmond, Newcastle was fined £10,000 with £36,500 costs. The prosecution criticised D&P from Hainult Business Park, Ilford for not having adequate risk assessments in place. Judge Serota said: "The guidance was insufficient to comply with H and S considerations and a lot more work needed to be done."

The family run business were fined £5,000 with £10,000 costs and given time to pay.

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