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June 19, 2021

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Bosley Mill explosion: Owner fined after explosion which killed four

The owner of a wood mill where four people were killed in an explosion in 2015 has been described as ‘totally inadequate’ and fined £12,000.

Four people were killed in an explosion at a wood mill in Bosley, Cheshire, on 17 July 2015. At Chester Crown Court in June 2021, owner George Boden was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and fined £12,000, while the firm, Wood Treatment Ltd, was fined £75,000.

In April 2021, two managers were cleared of health & safety offences in relation to the incident.

The blast tool the lives of cleaner Dorothy Bailey, maintenance fitter Derek William Barks, mill worker Derek Moore, chargehand Jason Shingler, whose body was never recovered.

Mr Boden pleaded guilty to being the director of a company which committed an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Wood Treatment Ltd (WTL) admitted a health and safety charge in 2020 and had also been charged with corporate manslaughter, but those charges were also dropped halfway through the trial.

When handing out the fine, judge Mrs Justice May described Mr Boden as a “totally inadequate managing director” and said, “The task was simply beyond him, he should never have been health and safety director or managing director of a business which required a very much more knowledgeable and effective hand on the tiller.”

She added the firm was “woefully wanting” in the discharge of its basic obligations.

In August 2015, SHP reported that HSE served a further Prohibition Notice (PN) on mill owners Wood Treatment Ltd, in relation to dust issues in sheds on the site of the mill. It was the second PN served on the mill during the investigation into the fatal explosion.

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