Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

November 11, 2016

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Carlsberg factory: one dead and 22 in hospital after ammonia leak

A 40-year-old man has died and another is in a serious condition after an ammonia gas leak at a Carlsberg factory in Northampton town centre.


22 people, including 11 staff, two police officers and nine firefighters, were taken to hospital following the incident on Wednesday (9 November).

A 51-year-old man working on the site remains in a serious but stable condition, it was confirmed.

A post-mortem examination is due to be held on the brewery worker who died.

Ammonia, a colourless, reactive gas that is lighter than air, has a strong odour similar to urine and is an important industrial chemical. In high levels ammonia may cause burns and swelling in the airways, lung damage and can be fatal.

Darren Dovey, Northamptonshire’s chief fire officer, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had asked fire crews to be redeployed to the site on Thursday to make sure the gas had dissipated and “all of the valves have been completely isolated”.

Confirming ammonia gas was used as refrigerant to cool down the site and the production process, Julian Momen, chief executive officer of Carlsberg UK, said: “We are deeply, deeply saddened by today’s tragic incident and subsequent fatality.

“Our immediate thoughts are with the individual’s family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time and we will support them in every way we can.

He added: “Our further thoughts and support are with our colleagues and members of the emergency services who are being treated in hospital.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of everyone working for us.

“We are working closely with the authorities to investigate how this tragic incident occurred and we will be in a position to say more once a full investigation has been concluded.”

In a statement Northamptonshire police said that a joint police and Health and Safety Executive investigation is likely to continue over the coming weeks.

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Mr K Hannaford-mason
Mr K Hannaford-mason
5 years ago

My thoughts go with the family. A tragic loss. Going to work and not coming home at the end of the day. By God it must hurt

Steve Walker
Steve Walker
5 years ago

I am pretty sure that the dangers of ammonia were why it was phased out as a refrigerant and replaced with the safe CFCs. They were in turn phased out because of damage to the ozone layer and now it looks like ammonia is making a comeback as the current replacements are powerful greenhouse gases,

Robert addenbrooke
Robert addenbrooke
5 years ago

We seem to be experiencing more severe incidents with fatalities. I’m a believer this was due to the risk based approach to fire and health and safety culture. Additionally the number of inspectors that enforce legislation has been drastically reduced. This means that premises are not monitored like they used to be before 2005 and thus the safety culture has taken a backward step. We need a more prescriptive approach to safety legislation and enforcement, we have a responsibility to all those affected by such incidents.