When a faulty gas oven exploded at The Three Crowns pub in Wisborough Green, a chef was thrown across the kitchen, his clothes were singed and he suffered burns to his face, hands and arms.
And on November 18 Guildford magistrates fined Sussex Pub Management Ltd £25,000 for failing to ensure the safety of its staff after hearing there were several issues with the oven.
The court heard in 2013 a different chef suffered burns when trying to light the same oven in similar circumstances.
Branding the incident a ‘shocking breach of work health and safety law’ CDC is now urging employers to protect their employees by ensuring gas appliances are properly installed and maintained.
Cabinet member for housing and environment services, Cllr Carol Purnell, added: “Several people could have died. Sadly, this was a completely preventable accident if the company had acted early to ensure the gas oven was safe to use. It ignored staff concerns and those of a safety expert and two people were injured. Health and safety laws are there to protect employees and the company failed in its legal duties.”
She added: “I hope this case sends a strong message that this council will not tolerate neglect of employee safety and will prosecute.”
A spokesman for CDC said an investigation by its environmental health officers found the propane gas oven had not been serviced properly for over five years and Sussex Pub Management Ltd, had failed to act after staff raised concerns.
“In 2012 a safety consultant issued a written report which stated the gas cooker should be inspected. The report was never followed up and no inspection took place.”
The company pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act. As well as the fine it was also ordered to pay costs of £6,289.50 and £300 in compensation to the victim.
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