Blast Victims Family Seek Compensation

The family of a man, who was killed at work in a sugar factory when a boiler exploded, is seeking compensation from its owners.

Robert Howe, 52, of Wellington, Shropshire, died after the accident at the British Sugar factory at Allscott near Wellington. Mr Howe, employed as a boiler stoker, and another man were taken to nearby Princess Royal Hospital in Shrewsbury shortly after the incident just after midnight on 3 March 2003.

The other man was released later that day with minor injuries. Mr Howe, who suffered 60% burns in the explosion was transferred to a Specialist Burns Unit in Nottingham, but died later that night from multiple organ failure.

Shift team-leader John Quail, said in a statement made just after the accident that he remembered a light going out and then seeing Mr Howe covered from head-to-toe in black and hot coals, he recalled seeing only the “whites of his eyes”.

A jury on 7 April 2008 recorded a verdict of accidental death but highlighted several problems with the boilers maintenance. They said corrosion of pipes in the boiler had gone unreported and they criticised the training and supervision given to a man who fitted a misaligned soot blower. This had caused corrosion to a pipe which led to the explosion.

Dr Ian Wadsworth, a consulting engineer was brought in to investigate the remains of the boiler. He told the inquest that the blast was caused by a weak pipe in the boiler and with proper maintenance the pipes should have been safe.

In a statement through solicitors the family said: “The family feel that had there been more care and attention to prevent the failings leading up to this tragic accident, Mr Robert Howe, a British Sugar worker, would not have lost his life. The whole family have been devastated by the events surrounding Roberts’s death and would like to emphasise that it is impossible to put their feelings into words.”

A spokesman for British Sugar confirmed the company was in “receipt of a claim”


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